Johannesburg - Church leaders vowed on Monday to refuse to pay to use Gauteng freeways and called on others to do the same.
“We... church leaders, have therefore decided to publicly declare our intention to refuse to buy e-tags and to refuse to pay this unjust e-toll,” they said in a statement.
“... We call on all other church leaders, members of our churches and all South Africans who support democracy to do the same.”
The leaders, including SA Council of Churches president Bishop Jo Seoka, the Central Methodist Mission's Bishop Paul Verryn, and Methodist Church of Southern Africa presiding Bishop Zipho Siwa, said the decision had not been easy.
However, it had to be made as the government was not listening to the people.
They said they were shocked and disappointed to hear the government ignore the people's protests and push ahead with e-tolls.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced on November 20 that e-tolling of Gauteng's highways would begin on Tuesday.
The religious leaders said they had twice met the government and pleaded that another form of recovering costs be found. They had recommended the fuel levy as an alternative.
“We made it clear that we reject assertions that this fuel levy would be unfair to those who do not use these roads,” they said.
“Is it unfair for taxes raised in Gauteng to be used to ensure that children in Limpopo receive the education they deserve? Is it unfair for sick people in Mpumalanga to be treated in hospitals funded by taxes raised in Gauteng or in the Western Cape?”
They called on society to support those who opposed the system, and said that while it was their duty to encourage obedience to the law, this depended on the law being just and reasonable.
“Even if many others do not feel that they are in a position to join the ranks of those who choose this path, it is very important that we all give them support and encouragement, that we do not allow them to be singled out and coerced.”