The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has assigned prosecutors to begin the process of charging people who have not paid their e-tolls, Eyewitness News reports.
This is according to the NPA’s Nathi Mncube, who told the news outlet today, 15 July 2014, that two senior prosecutors have been assigned to handle e-toll cases.
The advocates will take on 40 test cases, and will head to court “when they feel ready,” EWN was told.
According to Justice Project South Africa head, Howard Dembovsky, reports about the move come as no surprise.
“Sanral’s e-tolls ‘marketing strategy’ has always involved a strong element of fear mongering by threatening people with criminal records and other life-changing consequences for resisting their unjust and unduly expensive system of e-tolling – and simply cannot hope to get anywhere near to anything even remotely resembling ‘compliance’ without it,” the JPSA head said.
Dembovsky said it was intriguing, however, that the NPA would “risk prosecuting people when Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s so-called ‘panel of review on e-tolling’ has just been announced to much fanfare.”
Gauteng premier David Makhura announced in his State of the Province Address on 27 June 2014 that e-tolling in the province will be reviewed.
Makhura said the new e-tolling panel will solicit proposals on how to find new solutions for funding the province’s road infrastructure.
The panel will only be concluding its report and handing it to the Minister of Transport on 30 November 2014.
Dembovsky said that the prospect of being turned into “artificial criminals” by Sanral and the NPA would have a skewing effect on the assessments made by the panel.
It is believed that over 1 million people are refusing to pay for e-tolls and thus would have to be prosecuted.
“Two prosecutors, operating in the already overburdened South African criminal justice courts system, don’t stand any chance of making a significant dent in this figure,” Dembovsky said.
Both the JPSA and Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) have re-committed to standing behind motorists who face prosecution.
“We genuinely believe that a properly thought out and mounted criminal defence will lead to the acquittal of those accused of this so-called ‘crime’. We therefore urge anyone summonsed by the NPA to approach Outa the second that they receive summonses,” the JPSA said.