Sanral dare: Charge me, I will not pay e-tolls

Cape Town - Outa's John Clarke, who describes himself as a law abiding citizen, has openly invited national roads agency Sanral to charge him for refusing to pay e-tolls.
His challenge in a video posted on YouTube follows the guilty verdict last week of e-tolls fraudster Stoyen Stoychev.

Bulgarian researcher Stoychev, a biochemist at the CSIR, pleaded guilty and was convicted of fraud and evading e-tolls.

On a charge of fraud he was fined R20 000 or six months in prison. In addition to this he was sentenced to a further prison sentence of 12 months, which was completely suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted on fraud during this period of suspension and, furthermore, that he performs 100 hours of community service at the SPCA on Saturday mornings.

On charges of attempting to evade e-tolls, which is a contravention section 27 of the Sanral Act, he was also fined R20 000 or six months in prison. This was completely suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of contravening this section of the Sanral Act in his suspension period and that he pays his outstanding e-tolls. He owes Sanral more than R14 000. He is allowed to pay this off in instalments over a period of six months.

The civil rights group Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said the Stoychev verdict has been regarded by many as an attempt by Sanral to further intimidate Gauteng road users into acceptance of the e-toll scheme. But what they have actually done, is erode the State’s legitimacy to create good order in society, said Outa.

Stoychev was criminally prosecuted for defeating the ends of justice because he fraudulently doctored his number plates to evade camera detection so as to avoid paying traffic fines and e-tolls.
Clarke said in the video that he openly invites Sanral to charge him for refusing to pay e-tolls.

"Sanral has amplified the prosecution of Stoychev in the media as much as possible. It may have been successful in extorting money from a hapless offender, but it was the result of a plea bargain. Sanral, therefore, still has to prove the lawfulness of e-tolls in court," said Clarke.

In his view Sanral undermined its own legitimacy.

"The case of the lawfulness of e-tolls has not yet been made. Sanral has never engaged in a meaningful and proper public consultation process. I think a prosecution of me will fail in an open court," said Clarke.

"My decision is not simply because I do not want to pay e-tolls. Instead, it is because I take the rule of law very seriously."

He said when people in authority want the rest of society to behave, it matters first and foremost how they themselves behave. People must, therefore, be given a voice and listened to upfront.

"The ever changing e-toll regulations and public protests show that Sanral has not made its marks," said Clarke.

Clarke emphasised that he is sincere in his request that Sanral prosecutes him and puts him up under the lawfulness test.

"The State has yet to prove in court the lawfulness of e-tolls. Human rights do not belong to Sanral. They belong to people. My name is John Clarke and I am claiming my human rights. Come and charge me," he concluded.

In response to Clarke's video challenge, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona told Fin24 that the agency is not a law enforcement agency and that the SA Police Service or the National Prosecuting Authority would be better placed to respond “to this playground dare”.

“We, however, remind Outa of the statement made by the prosecutor in the first e-toll offender trial. Adv David Broughton said it is a notorious fact that some within our society have vociferously in the public domain urged the public to refuse to comply with the legislation pertaining to the e-toll system.

"This is clear incitement to commit a crime and is intended to render the e-toll system unworkable,” said Sanral.