Johannesburg - Sanral may have have been granted the first default judgement for non-payment of e-tolls, says the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, but that has nothing to do with the legality of e-tolling and doesn’t set a precedent in any way.
All that has happened, it says, is that somebody against whom summons was issued (but who apparently never received it because the company to which it was addressed had gone into liquidation) didn’t provide a notice to defend themselves, so the court found against them - without pronouncing on the merits or legality of e-tolls.
In sporting terms, it’s the same as awarding a match to the home team because their opponents didn’t pitch up - you still don’t know which is the better team.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said: “We contacted the defendant and she said she never received the summons. If that’s true and she was never able to defend the case against her, it’s likely she would have grounds to have the judgement rescinded.”
In any case, he pointed out, getting a default judgment against a close corporation in liquidation means you are likely to get very little for your efforts - it’s like kicking somebody when they’re down.
“Sanral sent out about 6000 summonses in 2016,” Duvenage added, “and we gave notice of intention to defend each one that was issued against an Outa member. Sanral may be within its rights to seek default judgements against people who don’t indicate their intention to defend themselves, but we see it as a cheap shot, intended to intimidate the public and coerce them into paying e-tolls.”
Sanral should stop asking for default judgments against an unsuspecting public, he said, as it could push innocent people and companies over the edge and into poverty and liquidation - especially as it knows a test case will be heard later this year, which is likely to result in a ruling that e-tolls were introduced unlawfully in the first place.
If you’ve been issued with a summons for not paying e-tolls, the Outa website www.outa.co.za has information on how to handle summonses and default judgments.