Researcher in court for e-toll fraud
Pretoria - A researcher at the CSIR, the first motorist to be prosecuted for evading e-tolls, appeared briefly in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on 987 charges – one count for each time he drove under an e-toll gantry with cloned number plates.
Dr Stoyan Stoychev’s matter was postponed for the written heads of argument.
State prosecutor David Broughton told the court the matter needed to be postponed to afford senior magistrate Desmond Nair enough time to consider it.
“The State needs time to consider the appropriateness of the proposed pleas and arguments which have been presented by the defence. This will also serve to give the magistrate who will be presiding over the matter enough time to familiarise him/herself with the merits of this case,” Broughton said.
Stoychev was arrested on October 2 last year on the N1 in Centurion.
At the time of the arrest, the duplicated number plates were found zip-tied over his original number plates.
The indictment states that the accused used the number plates from March 2012 until his arrest.
Stoychev is alleged to have altered his number plates by changing the letter “C” to an “O” and the numbers 06 to 60.
In the same month he is alleged to have used his vehicle without number plates on the back.
He later used cloned number plates which belonged to a BN Bunting, another motorist who had an e-toll account, allegedly accumulating a debt of R13 000.
Broughton said the alarm was raised when Stoychev and Bunting passed different gantries in different parts of the province almost simultaneously. Broughton said this case was a breakthrough and the State was in the process of prosecuting 800 other motorists for a similar offence.
The matter was postponed to September 10.