Idle threats, or a halt to our criminal justice system?
Howard Dembovsky, national chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, says that the plans put forward by South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to prosecute e-toll transgressors are severely flawed … He refers to an article that appeared in The Times on Monday, September 9, wherein Sanral’s GM of communications, Vusi Mona, explained how the agency plans to “punish e-toll rebels”.
Dembovsky relates: “It is very interesting to note the revelations contained in this report and to see that Sanral has again chosen to resort to levelling threats of criminal prosecution in an attempt to intimidate motorists into complying with its prepaid model of e-toll collection.”
Mona and others stated that the Criminal Procedure Act would be used to prosecute e-toll “rebels”, and that this is entirely possible – even with Aarto in effect in Johannesburg and Tshwane – by simply classifying all e-toll violations as criminal offences.
“What seems to have been overlooked, however, is the fact that the National Prosecuting Authority does not prosecute one million criminal matters in total over the course of a year; let alone double that each month,” Dembovsky points out.
These estimated two million additional offences were reached by looking at the amount of e-tag compliant road users. “Previously Sanral claimed that 600 000 e-tags had been sold, but now it is claiming that 100 000 less have in fact been sold,” says Dembovsky. “This must raise the question as to just how accurate any of its claims actually are, including (but not limited to) the monthly financial prejudice citizens will incur.”
He adds that this is the first time that Sanral has come clean with the breakdown of who has actually bought these e-tags, “with an alleged 300 000 of them having been sold to private individuals – which we assume means individuals and companies that are not state institutions.”
According to the National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS), there were 3 799 750 potential e-tag users as at June 30. Dembovsky adds: “Sanral claims that around 2 500 000 of these use Gauteng’s e-toll freeways on a daily or monthly basis … Therefore it is safe to assume that more than two million vehicles do not have e-tags at this stage. This represents 80 percent of the vehicles on Johannesburg and Tshwane’s roads not having e-tags.”
He concludes that it is very easy for Sanral to say how it will deal with e-toll “rebels” in an attempt to scare them, but it will not be so easy to carry out these threats.