Lo and behold!
Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) says that it comes as no surprise that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has, reportedly, appointed two prosecutors to start taking action against motorists for the non-payment of e-tolls …
“The South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) ‘marketing strategy’ has always involved a strong element of fear mongering, by threatening people with criminal records and other life-changing consequences for resisting its unjust and unduly expensive system of e-tolling … it simply cannot hope to get anywhere near to anything even remotely resembling ‘compliance’ without it,” JPSA states in a media release.
The non-profit organisation also finds it somewhat “intriguing” why the NPA would risk prosecuting people when the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has announced a so-called “panel of review on e-tolling” that will only be concluding its report – and handing it to the Minister of Transport – on November 30.
“Anyone who thought that Sanral and the NPA would have any regard, or respect, for ‘due process’ was clearly fooling themselves. This is precisely why JPSA greeted the announcement (of this review panel) with cautious optimism,” it notes. “Both Sanral and the NPA are now making a mockery of that process.”
JPSA points out that South African laws apply to the “here and now” and not retrospectively … “Therefore, should people be prosecuted and convicted while the ‘panel of review on e-tolling’ does its job – and a conclusion be reached that e-tolling should be scrapped and replaced with another, more efficient and less financially burdensome system of revenue generation – those convictions would stand.”
Currently, however, there are well over one million people who are going to have to be prosecuted; “and two prosecutors, operating in the already overburdened South African criminal justice courts system, don’t stand any chance of making a significant dent in this figure”.
JPSA adds that the Sanral strategy of prosecuting e-toll defaulters and detractors, in criminal courts, relies heavily on convictions being attained by the NPA. “Since South Africa does still have a Constitution and functional courts; convictions for this ‘offence’ are not a foregone conclusion.”
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) does, however, have a plan – should things go pear-shaped … On Thursday, July 10, it announced its Rule of Law campaign, which JPSA publicly supports. “We did not do so to gain publicity,” reports the non-profit organisation, “we did so because we genuinely believe that a properly thought out and mounted criminal defence will lead to the acquittal of those accused of this so-called ‘crime’.”
JPSA urge anyone summonsed by the NPA to approach Outa the second that they receive summonses.