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Lawyers rake in cash from blizzard of e-tolls summonses

Sanral’s financial allocation for legal fees may not be enough.

Law firms are licking their lips at the prospect of SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) going to war with Gauteng motorists, over the non-payment of e-tolls.

In response to questions from Moneyweb, Sanral says it has summonsed nearly 5 500 individuals and 837 businesses for non-payment of e-tolls. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), which is fighting e-tolls, says a further 6 500 summons were delivered “by the bakkie load” this week at various magistrates courts. That’s a total of about 13 000 summonses that have been issued so far.

These cases are likely to clog the justice system, as many of these are being defended. Some of the cases will be heard in the high courts, others in magistrates courts dotted around the country. One summons is claiming R6.9 million in unpaid e-tolls, another R1.6 million.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is defending scores of its members against Sanral, and has briefed one of SA’s top legal heavyweights, Gilbert Marcus SC, to argue its case in court, which could drag on for years.

“We want to see if we can join these cases so they can be heard together, since they involve pretty much the same legal arguments,” says Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage.

Sanral’s Strategic Plan document shows an allocation of R8.5 million for legal fees in the 2015/16 financial year, and R5.7 million for the current year.

This may not be enough. Most of these cases are likely to be defended, many of them by Outa. The summonses seen by Moneyweb are ‘simple summonses’, meaning they are simple claims for repayment of outstanding debt, without the supporting evidence, such as photographs of vehicles passing under the e-tolls gantries. Outa is likely to demand that Sanral furnish the supporting evidence, which will run to tens of thousands of pages in some cases. If you multiply this by more than 6 000 cases, the courts are going to be drowned in a blizzard of paper.

Sanral has appointed Daly Attorneys to manage the issue of summonses, backed by a network of correspondent attorneys around the country. Werksmans Attorneys is on retainer to Sanral as its attorney of record on e-tolls. According to Outa, some attorneys have refused to represent Sanral on principle.

According to one legal expert, the attorneys issuing the summonses are likely to make about R25 million out of Sanral. That doesn’t count what attorneys will make from defending their clients, which is likely to be a similar number.

Vusi Mona, general manager for communications at Sanral, says it is obliged by the Public Finance Management Act to collect monies owing to it. Therefore more summonses can be expected.

“We have to consider the 1.5 million compliant individuals, businesses and corporates who have been doing the right thing and paying their e-tolls. We also have to consider the importance of upholding the rule of law.”

Outa disputes the figure of 1.5 million e-tolls subscribers. “It’s hogwash,” says Duvenage. “This is the number of e-tags that were issued, but most of these were fitted in government and car-rental fleets in Cape Town, Durban and elsewhere, and never once passed under an e-toll gantry.”

Duvenage says Sanral’s legal onslaught is a mark of its desperation. Its bond issuing programme is under pressure as investors are unsure whether it will be able to meet its repayment obligations without leaning on government guarantees.

Says Mona: “It would be safe to say that the country cannot afford that Sanral fails. Specifically it has to do with not only our credit rating but the country’s. Should Moody’s Investor Services downgrade our country – the sovereign credit rating – it would directly impact on our cost of borrowing, specifically for the bonds issued under the guarantee, which is almost R30 billion.”

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Tragic that due to the obstinacy and stupidity of the ANC government money that could be more usefully directed elsewhere will be squandered in such a pointless fashion. It’s more encouraging that some legal firms are reportedly refusing to support SANRAL – seems some lawyers have a conscience.

Lets hope its true that they are not supporting SANRAL, I wonder……………..think you will find they are doing it afterhours. Never known a lawyer to turn down a quick easy buck. They will probably never win a single case as they first have to do what Outa has been trying to do for years and has not yet succeeded, but they will bill their clients none the less.

Like I’ve always said- SANRAL will slowly get its act together and start collecting the money. Where are all the people now who said it would never even get to this point? Of course it would! I hate e-tolls as much as anyone else, but simply refusing to pay is NOT going to work. The ONLY way to get rid of e-tolls is to vote for a government that will dismantle them.

By sending out a couple of summonses, 13000 out of 2,700,000, hardly sounds like getting their act together. To me it sounds like a last grasp before the system collapses in a heap of ash. When they get to halfway through prosecuting the outstanding non-payers and have collected that money, maybe then will I call it a success, Until then, I will sit on the sidelines and wait and see.

Like I said, I hate e-tolls as much as everyone else, but people have been pointing out that the system is on the brink of collapse for at least the last 2-3 years. It is way to big, and prestigious for the government to EVER let it collapse, even if (like SAA, Eskom, etc, etc.) it means bailing them out with OUR tax money for as long as it takes. The reality is, despite all the big mouths and pseudo-lawyers on these forms claiming what SANRAL can and cant do, all SANRAL needs to do is slowly eliminate the barriers to issuing and having summons enforced. Once all their processes pass internal and external audits, once their equipment is properly calibrated, and once (if necessary) legislation is amended to make enforcement easier, all SANRAL has to do is sort its Excel spreadsheet from most to least owed, and sit back and start collecting. Like I said, government WILL make this work, and when directors of companies owing millions find their personal assents being attached, or worse, sitting in jail, you’ll see “compliance” rocket. Like I said, if you (as I do) hate e-tolls, vote for a government that doesn’t support them. As long as the ANC is in power, e-tolls are here to stay, even if propped up with tax payers money, and eventually people will be forced to pay. Yes, they can’t send millions of people to jail – but they don’t need to. A few high profile cases will be all that it takes.

The system has been collapsing and been on its last legs for years now, yet strangely, its nudging closer and closer to enforcing payment. Where are all the people who swore that the post office could never handle a couple of hundred summons, never mind 10’s of thousands? Guess they were wrong. The system is NOT a success, and like just about everyone else, I hope it fails, but the govt has way to much invested in it to let that happen. E-tolls is small-change compared to SAA, Eskom, Telkom, etc. Govt will use tax payers money to bail them out as often as for as long as necessary. You (and I) WILL pay. The only solution is to vote them out.

There is a strategy to the 13000 summonses. Years ago when I was farming a group of us took a stand against paying wool board levies. I was the one summonsed, as I farmed far from the others also making a stand. Had I paid it would have set a precedent and the others would have to pay. These 13000 have been selected, some owe huge amounts, they will maybe decide to tow the line before it gets any bigger, others may not want a record, possibility of Metro thug cops getting into them, some may just fold and pay thinking it is now the end and SANRAL has won. Either way a precedent will be set and as mentioned it is the law.

yeah agreed. ultimately the point most seem to miss is that it is THE LAW. by not paying you are BREAKING THE LAW.

of course you can choose to do that if you wish …. but don’t bet against the other side of the arrangement enforcing its rights against you.

that would be plain silly.

Mona: “We also have to consider the importance of upholding the rule of law.” Yeah, right. Pompous f**t. Tell that to your ultimate master in his KZN public-funded mansion. Only when our “leaders” start doing the right things can one expect the public to follow suit.

Can one regard Dalys and Werksmans as collaborators?

The banks had some integrity in the Guptagate; do these legal firms licking their greedy lips have the same?

Leave it to the bbeeeeeeeeeeeeee firms.

Where does Werksmans and Dalys come into the urgument/accusations in the article ?

”The head cannot take in more than the seat can endure” Winston Churchill.

Sanral by their own admission have just spent R170 million on advertising to collect R145 million. Now they have allocated just over R14 million in legal fees over this year and the next to collect an unknown amount. Their monthly income from e-tolls they say is around R60 million when they need R270 million. Shouldn’t their Chief Financial Officer be looking for another job?
Once they’ve taken every motorist in Gauteng to court and, if possible, screwed money out of them do they think that this will all go away.

Ok so we will now be blamed for downgrade in credit rating…..and not the corrupt leaders and anc cadre? If your king can buy a R4B jet you have enough money to maintain the roads. Just do ur job?!!!

The scumral anc theft scheme has much in common with Vusi Mona, a discredited journalist found guilty of plagiarism and with a court history in Mpumalanga. No-one has yet answered how the money is split when it reaches the Austrian administrator…..

@faircomment and buzzkill, kindly take notice: Your ” ITS THE LAW” is sick.
Paying R100 per month for (online) unbiased legal advice, is sensible and wise.

The appointment of Record, Summons and Correspondent attorneys all over indicates its Civil Summonses (Not Criminal Summonses) wherefore going to jail for debt and/or criminal record threats is non-applicable. Evidently a big mistake by those whom caved in and signed Sanral’s (Civil) contract.

Within 7 days after being served the Summons the Defendant must duly serve and file an Appearance to Defend Notice, likewise within 7 days thereafter a Notice of detailed Full and Further Particulars, inter alia but not limited a copy of every e-toll billing invoice, at the signboarded price (lists of prices at the time ) plus a focussed photograph proving its the correct Vehicle, the Correct Number Plate and the Driver identifiable, written proof of delivery of the invoice with aforesaid photograph in time to enable payment within 7 days, the discount amount deductible if paid within 7 days, specific details of each and every penalty or whatever added thereafter onto each invoice amount, totalling the summons amount, which the Plaintiff must at its costs and expense (costs in the cause) serve on the Defendant and file on record in Court, and if not done fully Defendant must serve/file Notice of Motion for an Order to Compel it, normally heard on Fridays. Sanral elected the per Gantry billing system wherefore it must bear all the costs in the cause to serve and file the discovery of full and further particulars.

Furthermore take note that the Roads Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) acts as Adjudicator (synonym = Arbitrator) for AARTO to circumvent full and further particulars and due notice period prescripts. Arbitration is a voluntary process, wherefore if you do not want to get sucker punched ensure you quickly serve (evidence of time and date of delivery to named person) Notice on RTIA that you reject the RTIA as Adjudicator/Arbitrator and will not and do not sign any papers of the RTIA who will try to get you to involve yourself, either verbally and/or by signing something like “please sign here to prove that I was here “.

After 30 days all uncollected fines are ceded to RTIA. Municipalities at best only gets 50% of its issued fine. The other 50% plus all added penalties, fees, charges and interest collected goes to the RTIA. Yip, all must fight this unjust by default RTIA Arbitration Enforcement Order cash rip-off.

Well Mr Bond, that certainly clarifies things, for me at least. However, I believe you have failed (i.e. the opposite of “un-failed”) to draw attention to the common law principle of “non illegitimum carborundum” (i.e. don’t let the bastards grind you down) which requires all and sundry to produce affidavits and / or sworn statements before a judge of the Constitutional Court in terms of paragraph 7(a) (ii) bis of the Act relating to written submissions (Act number 456289 of 1845 as amended from time to time) as well as such other statutory limitations that may be imposed on the issuer and issuee of such affidavits and / or sworn statements. Provided these are adhered to pro tempore more and non causa debiti, not to mention “revision of accounts” where a surety is involved, then you can cut the offending document into strips and use it as bog paper (The Paper Products Act of 1928 refers).

Phil99 I think you definitely know what you are talking about here, Mr Bond left all the Latin out…………………………..

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