The announcement by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa that outstanding e-toll fees will be linked to the licence renewal system cannot be enforced immediately, and amended regulations will have to be published for public comment on the matter.
This is according to Justice Project South Africa, which said the withholding of licence discs due to e-toll non-payment may “not pass constitutional muster”.
“Interested parties will have 30 days from the time of publication of that government gazette [containing the amended regulations] to make written representations to the Department of Transport,” said JPSA.
“JPSA is of the opinion that withholding the issue of licence discs… would be tantamount to forcing a person who has in fact paid licence fees to renew their licence, but to whom a licence disc has been refused, to contravene the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2000 by not displaying a current licence as prescribed.”
During its announcement of the new e-toll dispensation, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters said the review panel was aware that legislative changes will be needed to link licence disc renewals to e-tolls.
The pending Aarto Amendment Bill could be used to effect the necessary changes, she added.
JPSA said even if the amendments were passed, there was no guarantee that withholding licence discs would encourage motorists to pay e-tolls.
“In fact, quite the opposite is true and the possibility of a whole new industry of mass false licence disc production could become a very real possibility.”
“If this provision does go through and people dig their heels in, it may be found by the Gauteng Provincial Government and all licensing authorities in Gauteng that the tactic of withholding licence discs will have a profound negative impact on their own licensing income revenues.”
JPSA said it was a pity the government had persisted with “what has already demonstrated itself to be a failed and unworkable system”.