The South African National Roads Agency Limited is misleading the public by saying that failing to pay toll fees is against the law, regardless of whether an invoice is issued or not.
This according to the Justice Project SA on Monday, in response to a statement by Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona on Sunday.
Mona said at the time: “Not paying your toll fees is not just a traffic offence, but a criminal one.
“The legal obligation to pay toll arises from using the toll road and passing underneath a gantry, not from an invoice that is forwarded to the road user.”
However, JPSA chairman Howard Dembovsky said the regulation was very clear on the matter of invoices.
“It says that Sanral must issue an invoice to any person from whom it requires payment of outstanding e-tolls,” he pointed out.
“The word 'must' in legislation is a prescriptive word which places a duty on the party against whom it is applied,” he explained.
Dembovsky said the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act decriminalised road traffic offences including non-payment of tolls, making provision under charge codes 3820 and 3821 in Schedule 3 of the act to deal with those matters.
“Therefore,” he said, “if AARTO is applied to speed fines on the respective freeways then it applies to all minor infringements such as non-payment of toll fees.”
The transport department should be aware, he added, that AARTO specifically decriminalised traffic violations and nobody could be guilty of a criminal offence for non-payment as Sanral claimed.
“The Justice Project will not relent in exposing both Sanral's incompetent handling of the e-tolling issue,” he said, “and Vusi Mona's constant misleading threats against the public.”
Mona said on Sunday that all the signs posted along the tolled roads indicated that payment had to be made within seven days.
“Sanral is using legally available resources at its disposal to contact vehicle owners. We are issuing notices, with invoices to follow, in order to alert road users that they have outstanding debt.”
Mona could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday. - Sapa