E-toll blue light car fight headed to court

The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has accepted Sanral’s challenge to take it to court over its use of blue lights and other traffic-policing tools on e-toll branded vehicles.

The JPSA previously accused Sanral of operating its branded vehicles illegally by making use of traffic-policing tools – including blue lights – on what are, by the agency’s own admission, non-policing vehicles.

The Sanral e-toll-branded vehicles all bear the five pointed star of the GDoCS Gauteng Traffic Police and in the case of mini-buses and trucks, are fitted with blue flashing light bars and, presumably, sirens.

“This in itself is tantamount to impersonation of a traffic officer (vehicle) and since Sanral has now publicly admitted that it ‘has no authority to enforce e-toll laws’, all Gauteng Traffic Police branding, warning lamps, and sirens must be removed from these vehicles forthwith,” JPSA head, Howard Dembovsky said.

However, in response to the allegations, Sanral said that it was completely legal for its vehicles to use blue lights and other tools, and would in fact operate illegally, otherwise.

Agency spokesman, Vusi Mona, said that the claims by Dembovsky exposed “the shallowness and lack of understanding of those who purport to be experts on the matter”.

“It is not their opinion that matters, but what the law says, and we are confident we have done everything by the book. What we do is legal. And that is the case with the blue lights on our vehicles too,” he said.

“Those who want to challenge us on the legality of the use of blue lights are welcome to do so,” Mona said.

Sanral E-toll branded trailer with Gauteng Traffic Police star
Sanral E-toll branded trailer with Gauteng Traffic Police star

Challenge accepted

Dembovsky and the JPSA have now hit back at the roads agency, reiterating the illegality of its operations.

“Sanral is indeed acting in contravention of the National Road Traffic Act and Regulations by fitting and using blue and/or blue and red flashing lights on their e-tolls branded vehicles – which are operated by persons who, by their own assertions, are not law enforcement personnel, but civilians.”

Dembovsky also noted that there is no legislation prescribing that a Police, Municipal Police, Traffic Police or Military Police vehicle must have blue and/or red and blue flashing lights in order to operate “legally”, calling Mona’s claims to that effect, “laughable”.

The only exception to this would be where such vehicles are operated in contravention of road traffic signs and/or the speed limit.

“We fully concur with their (Sanral’s) assertion that ‘It is not their opinion that matters but what the law says’, and we hereby redirect it straight back at them,” Dembovsky said.

“Where legal opinions differ, the only remedy is to argue the matter before the Court and that is exactly what we will do.”

The JPSA head said that, in light of the deadlock between the two parties, and the facts that are in dispute, the JPSA is “left with no choice but to approach the Court for a decision on this matter and we will do so in due course”.

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E-toll blue light car fight headed to court