File picture: Jason Morrison / Independent Media / Dubtastic.
Johannesburg - The government has finally wrested back control of the eNatis system - which registers driving licences and permits - following a three-year battle with a private contractor.

On Wednesday, Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) chief executive Makhosini Msibi welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling which dismissed a claim of more than R30 million lodged by Tasima against the RTMC and the national Department of Transport.

Msibi said he was pleased with the outcome, adding it would save the government millions of rands that would have been paid to a private company “to deliver services that the government is capable of delivering”.

“This judgment represents a major victory for the government, and confirms our long-held view that the eNatis system should be controlled by the government and not private contractors,” Msibi said.

“We are proud that the system has functioned smoothly since we took it over in April 2017,” Msibi said.

Last year, Tasima filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria, arguing that the RTMC, which is the custodian of the eNatis system, had failed to make several payments to the company while they were contracted to operate the eNatis system.

Tasima succeeded in its claims in the high court despite an earlier ruling by the Constitutional Court on November9, 2016, which found Tasima’s continued operation of the eNatis system “illegal and unlawful”.

The high court ruled in their favour, and that decision was endorsed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The RTMC made failed bids to appeal both rulings.

On Tuesday, however, the Constitutional Court overturned the rulings and found that the claims of R30m were illegal.

It reminded Tasima that the company was supposed to have handed over the eNatis system to the RTMC exactly 30 days after it made its original ruling in November 2016.

Trouble started back in 2010

The trouble began in May 2010 when the then ­director-general of transport, George Mahlalela, extended Tasima’s contract for five years despite strong opposition from then RTMC chief executive Collins Letsoalo.

The auditor-general also entered the fray and queried the extension of the contract, describing it as irregular.

This resulted in various court battles between the two parties, until a high court decision on June 23, 2015, declared the extension unlawful.

The high court ruling was further endorsed by the Concourt in November 2016.

Despite its ruling, the two parties continued with legal challenges against each other.

In December 2016, Tasima made an application to the Constitutional Court asking it to explain its ruling, but that was rejected. Despite the ruling, Tasima continued to use the eNatis headquarters in Midrand, which prompted the RTMC to approach the High Court in Pretoria and ask it to evict Tasima. The high court ruled in favour of the RTMC on April 6 last year.

Despite their eviction, Tasima further filed legal challenges and petitioned the High Court in Pretoria to force the RTMC to pay them more than R30m for services rendered before their eviction.

The Constitutionl Court found Tasima had no legal basis to enforce the high court’s ruling in the face of its November 2016 judgment and upheld the Department of Transport and RTMC’s appeal.

It also set aside the costs orders of the SCA and the high court in the RTMC and Transport Department’s application for leave to appeal in those courts.

The Star