Almost 300 000 e-toll defaulters have already taken up the South African National Roads Agency’s (Sanral’s) offer of 60% discount on historic e-toll debt, its service provider Electronic Toll Collection told Moneyweb on Wednesday.
The offer was made as part of a new dispensation for e-tolls announced by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in May last year in an effort to get bigger public acceptance for the controversial system.
The offer expires on 2 May and gives defaulters 60% discount on outstanding e-tolls levied from 3 December 2013 when the system was implemented to 31 August 2015, if they pay the outstanding balance or make arrangements to pay it in instalments.
Sanral is at the same time issuing summonses for outstanding e-tolls. A week ago Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said: “We can confirm that we have prepared 4 653 magistrate court summonses and by 6 April 2016, 2 790 had been delivered to the Sheriff for serving. We have also 332 high court summonses of which 120 have been delivered to the Sheriff for serving – also by 6 April 2016.”
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) chairman Wayne Duvenhage said in a statement issued on Wednesday: “We regard this as an onslaught against the people’s freedom of movement and participative action in decisions that impact them,”
“To date, several OUTA members have received High Court summonses for amounts ranging between R400 000 and R8 million. OUTA’s lawyers have filed notices of intention to defend these matters with the North Gauteng High Court and a trial of this nature could possibly take years to finalise”. Duvenhage said.
ETC told Moneyweb on Wednesday the financial receipts for the first 27 days of April have already exceed that for March by 39% and incoming calls have increased by 110% over the last two days.
The Less 60% call centre on average receives 1 300 telephone calls and makes 2 250 outbound calls per day. Due to the last minute rush it received 2 500 calls on 26 April alone, ETC said.
The service provide would not disclose the financial receipts in response to the offer so far, saying “collection figures are changing regularly. Indicative and firmer numbers will be communicated once these figures have been confirmed and finalised,” ETC said.
It also promised to disclose at a later stage how much has been committed in response to the offer, saying: “There are different categories of commitments with varying degrees of certainty.”
The average duration of payment arrangements entered into by road users is six months, ETC said.
OUTA however maintains it is not unlawful to not pay for e-tolls. “OUTA is well prepared for this legal challenge, with past court papers and new strong evidence which has come to the fore since then”, it said.
“We will prove why and how Sanral has run roughshod over the public’s constitutional rights and other legal requirements when declaring Gauteng’s freeways as tolled roads.
“To assist the public, OUTA has also placed on its web site (www.outa.co.za), guidelines on how to launch a defensive challenge, should the public be summonsed and wish to defend themselves, or alternatively, to have the organisation assist them in defence of Sanral’s summonses.”