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Johannesburg - The reported plan to establish e-toll courts is alarming, the Democratic Alliance's Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.
“Government’s plan to create courts to prosecute people who do not pay e-tolls must sound the alarm bells for all Gauteng residents,” Maimane said in reaction to the news.
Earlier in the day, Beeld reported that the SA Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the justice department were discussing the possibility of establishing special courts where e-toll non-payers could be prosecuted.
“If these plans go ahead, a road user who fails to pay the astronomical cost of R400 a month for regular trips between Soweto and Midrand will be hauled before a special court and prosecuted,” Maimane said in a statement.
Justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga reportedly said Sanral had asked for such a court.
“We are still talking about what would be the best method,” Mhaga was quoted as saying.
Maimane said talk of the courts was a sign the state was “serious about emptying the pockets of South Africans” and he urged residents of Gauteng to take action.
National Prosecuting Authority communications head Bulewa Makeke said it was the NPA's responsibility to allow courts to apply laws that had been accepted.
Both the justice department and the NPA “could not speculate” on whether the country's legal system would be able to cope.
“We cannot afford a situation where honest road users are convicted in their thousands, while the real criminals who rape and steal continue to escape the criminal justice system,” Maimane said.
Motorists would receive fines by registered mail that could lead to a court summons.
According to the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance's court documents, this could be about 2.1 million summonses.
Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said motorists who did not pay their toll fees would be charged under the Sanral Act.
If the first debt collection process failed, a final notice would be sent and the matter would be handed over to the prosecuting authority.
It would be done electronically, he said.