Public urged to speak up on e-tolls regulations

Eugenie du Preez

Cape Town - The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) urged the public to comment on e-toll regulation changes on Friday.

This is in response to a notice released by the Department of Transport in the Government Gazette, in which it requested the public to comment on proposed changes to Gauteng's e-toll regulations by September 26.

"This gazette seeks to introduce a number of changes to the e-toll regulations, some of which are sincerely concerning," said Outa in a statement on Friday.

Outa said it has set up a page on its website "which makes it easy for the public to submit comments" on the main issues in response to the notice in the gazette. "It is important to know that the more that public participate in making such submissions, the stronger the people’s case to be heard," said the civil rights body.

Earlier this month Gauteng motorist Dr Stoyen Hristov Stoychev received a stiff sentence in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court for falsifying his number plates to skip e-toll payments.

Stoychev was arrested on October 2 last year after it was found that he had been driving on Gauteng’s tolled highways with fraudulent number plates on his white Hyundai for the past seven months.
He was fined R20 000 or six months in prison on a fraud charge. In addition to this, he was sentenced to a further prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of fraud during this period of suspension. He also has to perform 100 hours of community service at the SPCA on Saturday mornings.

'Playground dare'

Following Stoychev's guilty verdict, Outa's John Clarke, who describes himself as a law-abiding citizen, openly invited the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) to charge him for refusing to pay e-tolls.

Outa said the Stoychev verdict is seen by many as an attempt by Sanral to further intimidate Gauteng road users into acceptance of the e-toll scheme. However, in actual fact they have eroded the state’s legitimacy to create good order in society, according to Outa.

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 response to Clarke's video challenge, spokesperson Vusi Mona told Fin24 that Sanral 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”.