File photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Gauteng - Toll gantries will be taken down “nicely”, Cosatu's Tshwane chairman said on Friday ahead of a protest march against e-tolling.

“We are not going to destroy them. We are going to take them down nicely and give them to Sanral,” said Johannes Clouw in Pretoria.

The “taking down” of gantries was planned for 6 December, when a second march was due to take place, he said.

Earlier this week, Dumisani Dakile, provincial secretary for the Congress of SA Trade Unions, said the federation's members would demolish the toll gantries if government did not scrap the proposed system.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Thursday morning, Dakile, however, said what he had meant was that government officials who tore down houses in Lenasia should also tear down the gantries.

Opposition alliance Outa called on all participants in the march to refrain from violence and damage to property.

“Outa... trusts these marches will be conducted in a most peaceful manner to demonstrate society's respect for property rights and the law,” said Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage.

The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday reserved judgment on the future of the e-tolling system, following a challenge by Outa.

Like Outa, Cosatu wants e-tolling scrapped, saying workers cannot afford it and government must prioritise efficient, affordable public transport.

Government spokesman Thabo Masebe also called on protesters to abide by the law.

“Government calls on marchers to exercise their right to protest within the ambit of the law,” he said.

Pretoria residents voiced their opposition to the e-tolling project by singing, dancing, and blowing vuvuzelas ahead of the march.

People sang “An injury to one is an injury to all”.

Marchers were gathered on vacant land used by taxis at the corner of Sophie de Bruyn and Johannes Ramokhoase Streets, while police kept watch.

Police closed the road around 11am when the march began.

Cosatu spokesman Norman Mampane, who was with workers gathering in Johannesburg for a march there, said: “If the government can destroy houses in Lenasia, it can demolish the gantries.

“On this day, within South Africa, no roads should be privatised.”

He said the wealthy would still use the highways, but the poor would be forced to use side routes, which were poorly maintained and would become congested.

Cosatu welcomed to freeway improvement, but not “at the expense of the little people”. -Sapa