Im­pos­si­ble to pros­e­cute all e-toll de­fault­ers: Outa

Saturday Star - - METRO - SAMEER NAIK sameer.naik@inl.co.za

IT WILL be lo­gis­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble for SA Na­tional Roads Agency (Sanral) to take ev­ery per­son who has not paid their e-tolls to court, main­tains the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Sanral re­cently is­sued a fi­nal warn­ing to Gaut­eng road users to pay their e-tolls debts or face be­ing dragged to court.

How­ever, Outa sim­ply can­not see it hap­pen­ing be­cause of Sanral’s poor track record of sum­mon­s­ing Gaut­eng driv­ers to court.

Ac­cord­ing to Sanral’s an­nual re­port in Par­lia­ment, from 2016 un­til Au­gust this year, 15 505 sum­monses were is­sued. Of these, only 3 724 were served on de­fault­ers mean­ing that only 24% of sum­monses is­sued reached the de­fault­ers.

“The rea­sons given by the min­is­ter were in­suf­fi­cient ad­dresses, debtor un­known at the ad­dress, debtor moved and the premises was locked and the sher­iff could not gain ac­cess,” said Outa spokesper­son Rudie Heyneke.

“If the above-men­tioned fig­ures are taken as a guide­line, it is im­pos­si­ble to see how Sanral would be able to see this through. Keep in mind, there are still about 2.2 mil­lion sum­monses to be is­sued and served.

“In three years, they could only serve 3 724 on e-toll de­fault­ers.”

Outa be­lieves Sanral is wast­ing its time and re­sources by con­tin­u­ing to is­sue sum­mons to driv­ers.

“We call on Sanral, as we have done in the past, to stop is­su­ing sum­monses and waste mil­lions on le­gal costs, un­til the test case be­tween Sanral and the de­fen­dants who are rep­re­sented by Outa’s at­tor­neys, is fi­nalised,” said Heyneke.

“We can­not dic­tate to Sanral, but do hope that san­ity will pre­vail and that they will ad­here to our re­quests in this re­gard.”

How­ever, Sanral said it would con­tinue pur­su­ing de­fault­ing Gaut­eng mo­torists.

“The col­lec­tion of out­stand­ing toll is an on­go­ing process that started in 2015 with var­i­ous debt col­lec­tion com­po­nents, each with its own time­lines,” said Sanral spokesper­son Vusi Mona. “The is­su­ing of civil sum­monses is only one of these com­po­nents and not all debtors are in this part of the process.”

Last month, Trans­port Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande made it clear that the e-tolls sys­tem would not be scrapped.

Speaking to the SABC, Nz­i­mande said: “I want to be hon­est with you… We un­der­stand the pub­lic sen­ti­ment… but at the same time we have got an­other prob­lem that many peo­ple do not want to deal with.

“We owe an amount in to­day’s terms of R67 bil­lion. That’s the amount we owe on the build­ing of these won­der­ful free­ways. The is­sue is who is go­ing to pay and how are we go­ing to pay.”

Outa, how­ever, be­lieves that Sanral is fighting a war it will never win.

“With ev­ery sum­mons is­sued and served, Sanral is show­ing their in­ten­tion to take peo­ple to court,” said Heyneke.

“What is in­ter­est­ing is that there are 2 404 sum­monses that were served but not de­fended. To date, we have not heard about one de­fault judg­ment taken by Sanral. Surely the mat­ters that were not de­fended will have judg­ments for mil­lions of rands. Why don’t they ex­e­cute?

“Are they re­ally se­ri­ous about get­ting judg­ments or are they just us­ing the le­gal process to bully the pub­lic into pay­ment? Surely the lat­ter.”

Outa said it was com­mit­ted to stand­ing be­hind ev­ery South African is­sued with a sum­mons by Sanral.

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