E-toll prosecutions smoke and mirrors: JPSA

Prosecutions for falsifying number plates to avoid e-tolls has nothing to do with people being charged for not paying their e-tolls, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) said in a statement on Monday, 27 October 2014.

The statement followed a report on Moneyweb in which it said the chief financial officer of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), Inge Mulder, once again threatened motorists with prosecution for non-payment of e-tolls.

This is despite the fact that e-tolling is currently under review by the Gauteng Provincial Government.

“The two cases currently undergoing prosecution must not be confused with prosecutions for non-payment of e-tolls, despite the fact that Sanral has chosen to conflate these two cases with fraud charges applicable to e-tolling,” JPSA chair Howard Dembovsky said.

“Falsifying and defacing number plates are criminal offences under the National Road Traffic Act. Falsified number plates would ordinarily be prosecuted under the criminal charge of fraud, with charges under the National Road Traffic Act forming alternative charges,” said Dembovksy.

He also said that by waiting more than 7 months after the first prosecutions should have started (April 2014), Sanral had created an enormous amount of prejudice – both in the money allegedly outstanding to it and the number of people that will have to be prosecuted for non-payment of e-tolls.

“It would appear that Sanral doesn’t much care what happens to the economy of South Africa if they are successful in creating a high volume of artificial criminals,” Dembovsky said.

“It is still somewhat debatable whether Sanral will be successful in prosecuting cases of the non-payment of e-tolls, but only a court will prove whether they will or will not,” he added.

Dembovsky went on to say that when it comes to the prosecution of motorists for the non-payment of e-tolls, the matter is not nearly as clear-cut as someone falsifying or defacing number plates.

“Prosecuting the two clearly criminal matters cited by Sanral is a far cry from prosecuting hundreds of thousands, if not over a million, individuals for non-payment of e-tolls,” Dembovsky argued.

He added that if Sanral was planning to violate the Constitution by selecting a few choice matters to prosecute in the hope that it could scare others into submission, Sanral needed to be aware of the fact that this would not simply be overlooked.

“If they are successful in prosecuting large volumes of e-tolls ‘offenders’, they will create an environment of unemployable artificial criminals and will, as a result, cripple the economy of South Africa,” Dembovsky said.

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E-toll prosecutions smoke and mirrors: JPSA