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Gauteng e-tolls war far from over

Industry news

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng has urged motorists to refrain from paying e-tolls and instead join the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse to qualify for the provisional immunity agreement.

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey made the call after Outa revealed on Thursday it had reached an immunity agreement with the South African National Roads Agency Limited for its members.

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Members do not need to pay e-tolls, says Outa, they have immunity until case is finalised - but Sanral disagrees. File photo: Thobile Mathonsi / INLSA

Chairman Wayne Duvenage said the agreement was pending the completion of an e-toll test case process that started in June, by legal agreement with Sanral.

The roads agency has, however, denied the existence of any agreement.

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said: “The statement by Outa purporting that a legal agreement had been reached with Sanral on a test e-tolls case is false. It is nothing more than a fundraising exercise by Outa.”

But Duvenage said that according to their agreement, all current and future Outa members who were presented by its legal team were provisionally immune from legal claims by Sanral for non-payment of e-tolls.

“After several months of negotiation, Sanral has, through its lawyers, finally agreed to stay all legal claims against members of the public who either already are, or will in future become Outa members,” Duvenage said.

He added that the agreed stay of legal claims was pending the completion of the test case process that started in June, and which could realistically take more than two years to complete.

“The agreement effectively grants the entire Outa member community immunity until the case is complete. Our aim is to show that e-tolling is unlawful in the test case, and should we succeed, the stay of legal claims will become permanent.”

‘New round of summons’

He said Outa’s agreement was not applicable to non-members, adding that only individuals and businesses who became members of Outa and opted to fall under Outa’s E-Toll Defence Umbrella (now or in future) would fall under the agreement.

“At the same time, Sanral has clearly indicated it intends to continue applying legal action and summonsing e-toll defaulters outside Outa’s membership base.

“All indications are that new rounds of summons are being issued by Sanral.”

Duvenage said: “You'd think Sanral would stop chasing e-toll defaulters until the Outa test case was settled, but it seems they intend to carry on summonsing e-toll defaulters and continuing legal action regardless.

"More worrying for Sanral, however, is that all their summons issued between March 2016 and mid-August were so full of errors that we maintain they're invalid because their declarations don't conform to the rules of court."

Moodey said the DA was confident that Outa had sufficient evidence and ability to successfully defend an e-toll non-compliance case.

“To join the defence umbrella, people simply need to become contributing members of Outa through either monthly or annual membership contributions for businesses or individuals, no matter the amount they can afford,” Moodey said.

“It is our intention to fight for residents during consultation on existing tolling tariffs to prevent increases, and will ensure our metro police officials will not harass motorists over their e-toll account status.”

The Star

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