557 05.11.2014 Gantry/ E-Toll/ Etoll issue. Motorists makes their way along the N1 highway near South Gate mall. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - When transport minister Dipuo Peters recently told parliament that Sanral's discount offer on old e-toll debt had brought in only R145 million of the R5.9 billion it was owed, the Organisation Against Tax Abuse was quick to ask: “What clearer message is it going to take for the minister to admit the scheme has failed?”

A grand total of 130 000 motorists had paid in an average of R1115 each, Outa pointed out, clearing less than 2.5 percent of the outstanding total dating from before 31 August 2015.

Also read: Deadline failed to spark e-toll rush

Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said that the final figures would be higher, since the agency was still 'counting the numbers', but Outa speculated that even then the total income from the discount scheme would be considerably less than R400 million, or about seven percent of the 'historic' debt.

“Going forward, that means e-toll payment levels will stay below 30 percent,” said Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage, “which should send a clear message to the authorities that the e-toll horse they've been flogging has been dead for some time now.”

Making matters worse, he pointed out, was that the outstanding e-toll debt had risen further since September 2015, and was now around the R8 billion mark and climbing.

“In purely practical terms,” he said, “that makes Sanral's debt problem insurmountable - and in any case, how does Sanral intend to issue summons to the more than two and a half million motorists who have never paid an e-toll bill?”

Also read: E-toll summonses ‘pure victimisation’

Outa director of legal affairs Ivan Herselman added that the organisation had largely completed its preparation for the defensive challenge it would be conducting on behalf of dozens of members who'd been summonsed for non-payment of e-tolls.

“Our action to defend our members has advanced on the back of significant additional information obtained over the past few years,” he said. “Sanral and the authorities have a lot to answer for in court - not only on their decision to toll the freeway upgrade, but also on lots of technical and procedural matters regarding the practical application of the scheme.”

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