The Democratic Alliance (DA) is alarmed at the possibility of a special court to deal with e-toll non-payment, while the Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has said it is not surprised the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) is approaching the Department of Justice with the idea.
“[The] Government’s plan to create courts to prosecute people who do not pay e-tolls must sound the alarm bells for Gauteng residents,” said Mmusi Maimane, the Gauteng premier candidate for the DA.
“Alongside expensive tariffs published last week, the court are a sign of how serious this government is about emptying the pockets of South Africans.”
Maimane said a motorist doing regular trips using the freeways between Soweto and Midrand failing to pay “astronomical” e-tolling costs “will be hauled before a special court and prosecuted”.
The JPSA said in a statement it is “not in the least surprised to learn that SANRAL – a state owned company under the control of the National Department of Transport – has approached the Department of Justice to discuss the possibility of establishing special courts for e-toll dodgers”.
The JPSA maintains it has “repeatedly” warned against the attempt to prosecute “a million plus non-compliant e-road users” per month.
The group believes such a prosecution attempt will collapse the country’s criminal justice system and has noted the National Prosecuting Authority’s statement indicating it cannot speculate on the country’s legal system’s ability to cope with the extra cases.
“What other answer does anyone realistically expect them to provide when it is a well-known fact that our legal system is groaning under the strain of the current workload?,” the JPSA statement read.
“However, even if they do establish special courts, it is still more than doubtful whether even these would be able to deal with the volume of ‘offenders’ that can quite easily and reasonably be expected to accumulate.”
The JPSA said what really disgusts it is the fact that SANRAL is setting up a special court for the prosecution of e-toll non-compliance, but a special court has not been set up to deal with priority crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery.
It also accused the Department of Transport (DoT) of “suffering from a chronic disconnection” because it has pushed for the collection of e-toll revenues as well as the prosecution of those who do not comply rather than addressing the “carnage on South African roads”.