A transport company that has been summonsed over R400,000 in unpaid e-tolls is set to go into battle with Sanral, in what is expected to be the first test case in court over unpaid fees.
In the civil action, Thandanani Truckers and Hauliers is disputing that it owes the SA National Roads Agency Limited R402,841.62 in e-tolls and alleges that the scheme is unlawful.
The haulier’s defence is being supported by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s (OUTA’s) legal fund, started specifically for a test case involving a member.
Sanral has previously obtained a default judgment against an e-toll user, and believed this would set a precedent, but OUTA claimed that case was meaningless because it was not opposed and there was no legal argument.
According to the transport company’s legal papers, Sanral allegedly sent invoices to the wrong address, used ordinary mail instead of registered mail, and failed to send invoices for some periods.
In addition, it alleges that Sanral and the transport department did not register to collect Value Added Tax, and were not indicating VAT as a separate item on lists of charges making it unlawful to collect VAT on e-toll use.
The company also argues that public comments were not handled properly because there was more interest in complying with a Cabinet decision to toll parts of Gauteng’s freeways, than meeting the procedural requirements of introducing the pay-per-use scheme on 201km of highway around Johannesburg.
OUTA was excited about the move, and was looking forward to other organisations opposed to e-tolls joining the application as friends of the court.
In response Sanral said on Friday that OUTA was not doing anything new.
”In Sanral’s opinion, legal certainty was previously provided by various courts , i.e. the Constitutional Court, High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal and the plea filed does not appear to introduce any new material matters which were not previously before the courts.
”Despite these judgments, OUTA continues to state that tolling is illegal and users don’t need to pay, which in our opinion is incorrect and does not reflect the findings in the previous court decisions.”
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance has made the scrapping of e-tolls an election promise, and the Congress of SA Trade Unions has said it also is strongly opposed to e-tolls.
Since December 3, 2013, the date from which tolls could be levied for travelling on the 201km of roads upgraded under the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, Sanral had faced condemnation and resistance to the scheme.
A court and a date has not been set yet, as early processes are still underway.