Johannesburg - The failure to pay toll fees regardless whether an invoice is issued or not is against the law, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said on Monday.
“Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has again confused two different legal process; one being the AARTO process and the other the prosecution in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA),” Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said in a statement.
“It should be noted that the non-payment of tolls is a criminal offence in terms of the SA National Roads Agency Act, (Section 27(5) of Act 7) of 1998 and enforcement will be done in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977 and not AARTO, as assumed by Howard Dembovsky.”
Earlier, JPSA chairman Dembovsky said Sanral was misleading the public by saying the failure to pay toll fees was against the law.
JPSA was responding to a statement Sanral made on Sunday.
“Not paying your toll fees is not just a traffic offence, but a criminal one,” Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said in a statement at the time.
“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.”
Dembovsky said regulations were 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.
“The word 'must' in legislation... is a prescriptive word which places a duty on the party against whom it is applied,” he said.
Dembovsky said the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act decriminalised road traffic offences including non-payment of tolls.
He said AARTO made provision under charge codes 3820 and 3821 under Schedule 3 of the Act to deal with those matters.
“Therefore 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,” he said.
The transport department should be aware that AARTO specifically decriminalised traffic violations and no one could be guilty of a criminal offence for non-payment as Sanral claimed.
On Monday, Mona said though the conviction and nature of punishment would be determined by the courts, Dembovsky's assertions that motorists could break the law without any consequences bordered on an irresponsible and despicable attitude towards the rule of law.
“The legal obligation to pay toll does not arise from an invoice that is forwarded to a user,” Mona said.
“In terms of the e-road regulations, the user has a seven-day grace period to pay the toll. 1/8Dembovsky 3/8 is correct in saying regulation 6(5) of the e-road regulations does require Sanral to issue an invoice to any person from whom it requires payment of outstanding e-tolls.
“But that refers to a person who has already defaulted by not paying within the seven-days grace period,” Mona said.