Jackie Flemings wad of e-toll bills posted to her. Picture: Mervyn Naidoo

Durban - Jackie Fleming was shocked to get an e-toll invoice, because she rarely drives out of the province, or even Durban.

The bill reflected her number plate and the picture of another vehicle.

E-tolling is a road usage billing system used by the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral). The system, launched in December, is at present being used only in the Joburg area.

Fleming, who works for a logistics company, said: “The last time I drove to Joburg was about 10 years ago.”

In spite of raising the alarm with the e-toll customer relations department when she got the first invoice in December, more bills dropped into the postbox of her Northdene home.

So far, she has collected 10 invoices, the latest of which arrived on Thursday. The invoices, which range between R70 and R700, total more than R2 000.

“They’re just piling up – it’s very frustrating,” said Fleming.

Fleming drives an Audi. She has to date seen pictures of a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota bearing her number plate.

“I think someone has cloned my number plate and I’m being left to pick up their e-toll bills,” she said.

During her first interaction with the customer relations call centre, Fleming was asked to get an affidavit from the SAPS to verify the information she provided and the car she drove. She contacted the call centre again after receiving a second bill, but was frustrated when an operator asked her to repeat the same steps to lodge her complaint.

Fleming thought it was the end of her trouble, but the bills kept coming.

“My biggest fear is that I’ll be blacklisted or legal action will be taken against me. I’m usually meticulous with my accounts.”

Fleming said she even had copies of her fuel slips for the days she was billed to confirm her car was never in Joburg.

“I wonder how many other people have become victims of number plate cloning,” she said.

Sanral’s head of communications, Vusi Mona, said if Fleming’s version was true, the charges would be written off.

“We apologise to her for the inconvenience caused,” Mona said. “I want to reassure (her) that if there is evidence to back her claim, we will cancel the charges.”

He said Sanral had a dispute resolution mechanism in place and people at the call centre might not have guided Fleming properly.

“We’ll get to the bottom of it – she need not panic.”

Mona also said the cloning of number plates had initially not been a problem, but now needed to be addressed.

He said it was a law enforcement issue, but Sanral was willing to work with law enforcement agencies to resolve the problem.

Sunday Tribune