Reasons given by the High Court in Pretoria for granting an interim interdict against e-tolling were vague and unclear, the Constitutional Court heard on Wednesday (12 August 2012).
National Treasury lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett said High Court Judge Bill Prinsloo did not provide adequate reasons for his decision to grant the interdict.
“With respect, what he does… is tick the individual interdict boxes, and to say each time that it [the reason] is there.”
He said it was difficult for the parties to determine how he had come to his conclusions.
“It is the beginning of vagueness.”
The interdict by the High Court in Pretoria, brought by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), was granted on April 28.
It instructed that a full review needed to be carried out before electronic tolling of Gauteng’s highways could be put into effect.
The SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) and National Treasury are appealing against the court order.
Gauntlett argued on Wednesday there was a lack of concern about the financial implications of the interdict in Outa’s founding affidavit. He said it predicted harm, and that the harm would fall solely on Sanral, but nothing was further analysed.
“It leaves out, spectacularly, public interest.”
Gauntlett said it was wholly unrealistic to grant an interdict against the project when it was ready to begin.
“I know it’s all been built. What this fight about is how it is [to be] paid [for].”
He likened this to having built a stadium and reviewing it based merely on how its turnstiles functioned.
Gauntlett said the interdict, by acknowledging that the government had decided to take-on Sanral’s debts, would unfairly affect the entire country’s economy.
“Government ends up robbing Peter to pay Paul. Where Paul are road users who have claimed this wonderful world-class transport facility, and Peter are the people in other provinces.”
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke asked why, if the government was so opposed to the interdict, would it agree to so many postponements.
Gauntlett said one of the four postponements was for technical reasons, while the others were about public concerns.
He said the court, through acknowledging the idea of the separation of powers, should grant the appeal.
“Therefore we ask for the application to be allowed and for the appeal to be upheld,” Gauntlett said, closing his argument.