The Kapsch-owned Electronic Tolling Collection company (ETC), set up to rake in e-toll funds from Gauteng’s road users, has started to call, mail and SMS citizens to claim unpaid toll fees.
The Star newspaper reported on Thursday (19 December) that an ETC-run call centre with as many as 80 employees “pestered” proxy pay-fine service, Fines4U with 32 calls on Wednesday (18 December) advising the operator, Cornelia van Niekerk, to register her vehicles so she can see invoices.
According to the report – as well as various posts by users on MyBroadband – unregistered and untagged e-toll road users are being called, and sent e-mails and text messages saying that unpaid e-toll bills have been sent to the “violations centre”, as they are overdue.
This, despite none of the users receiving an official Sanral invoice for the amount due – with many raising questions as to where and how Sanral got hold of their contact details in the first place.
Sanral spokesman, Vusi Mona reportedly told The Star that Sanral was obtaining information for invoices from eNatis, the national administration traffic information system.
eNatis is described as “the official register for all vehicle, driving licence, contravention and accident data” for South Africa. This means that any data provided to the state as part of registering ownership of a vehicle or obtaining a license, whether ID numbers or marital status, may be available to Sanral.
In addition to eNatis, Sanral said that it also gets information for invoices from a “database legally obtained from third parties”, which could explain how they obtain the e-mail addresses of users who haven’t provided them to the South African government.
One such database is believed to be the pay-fine website PayMyFines.co.za – which is owned by TMT Services (Pty) Ltd, the company which is 60% owned by Kapsch TrafficCom, which is also the effective 85% majority shareholder of ETC.
It was also reported by The Star on Wednesday that users who had registered on PayMyFines had their details handed over to the ETC.
According to the paper, TMT Services chief executive Douglas Davey said the terms and conditions on the website specifically indicate that it reserves the right to pass on user information (excluding financial information) to other parties.
Justice Project South Africa head, Howard Dembovsky, said that sending people into a debt-collection process before invoices are sent is breaking the law.