Opposition alliance Outa is almost certainly taking the e-tolls fight to the Constitutional Court.
This is unless a board meeting next week decides otherwise.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said this morning that they believed they had a good argument to appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment delivered yesterday, giving e-tolling the go-ahead.
But the organisation said its main concern with taking the case to the Constitutional Court was that they did not have enough funds, so they will only make a decision on which direction to go next after a meeting of their board in the next week.
In a media statement, Outa said it found it “astonishing” that the appeal court’s judgment refused to consider and decide on the unlawfulness of e-tolling, but rather focused on a technicality based on the fact that there had been too long a delay in challenging the system.
“In short, the SCA has said it is too late, and has closed its eyes to the fact that e-tolling may be unlawful,” their statement said.
“The merits have not been decided on and in this regard the SCA said it was ‘barred from embarking on the merits’.”
The anti e-toll organisation said Sanral’s statement, that the judgment affirmed that they had consulted adequately, was inaccurate.
“It is, of course, bitterly disappointing that the SCA opted to take the course it did,” the alliance said.
“COURTS HAVE FAILED THE PUBLIC”
Outa said it had looked to the courts to protect the public, but the courts had failed them.
Outa said they had raised 90 percent of their funds, but needed R1.4 million for the appeal. Another option was to cease further litigation and support the public in its opposition to e-tolling outside of the courts.
Duvenage said they owed lawyers R12.8m and had raised R11.4m from the public. “We need more money, we are R1.4m short. We are in debt and have to find the money. But the lawyers are understanding,” Duvenage said.
Labour federation Cosatu pitched in yesterday, saying it had decided to move its campaign against e-tolls into top gear.
Gauteng motorists will probably, within the next three months, have to start paying to use the highways.
The tariffs were published on the same day the court made its decision. Not paying toll fees within seven, 30 or 60 days will attract hefty penalties.
The notice gives the public 30 days to comment to the Department of Transport on the tariffs.
Just like earlier published notices on tariffs, motorists are given seven days to pay their e-toll account after having passed under a gantry, and those who have an e-tag will pay significantly less than those who don’t.
In the judgment written by Judge Fritz Brand from the Supreme Court of Appeal, Outa’s attempts to have a Pretoria High Court judgment overruled was refused yesterday by the second highest court in the country.
The judge did decide, however, to overturn a costs order, so Outa is no longer responsible for having to pay millions of rand for the government’s legal fees.
Outa said yesterday that while they were disappointed at the ruling, they were pleased that the court had scrapped the costs order.
They said they were studying the judgment and would explain their reaction today.
The judgment discusses the time delay – from the decision to use e-tolling to Outa’s review application, a total of five years. The court felt this was too long for them to have approached the court.
The court said that if the appellants had come forward sooner and the e-toll decision was set aside, then the SA national Roads Agency Ltd would never have borrowed R20 billion, which it now has to pay back.
The judgment notes that a decision to set aside the decisions made would affect not only the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, but would also have a detrimental impact on the national road network as a whole, with a clear knock-on effect on the economy. -The Star