A TOLL road gantry along the Sanral GFIP system. There is mounting doubt that Sanral can collect outstanding monies from motorists. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

It will be logistically impossible for SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) to take every person who has not paid their e-tolls to court, maintains the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Sanral recently issued a final warning to Gauteng road users to pay their e-tolls debts or face being dragged to court.
However, Outa simply cannot see it happening because of Sanral’s poor track record of summonsing Gauteng drivers to court. 

According to Sanral’s annual report in Parliament, from 2016 until August this year, 15505 summonses were issued. Of these, only 3724 were served on defaulters meaning that only 24% of summonses issued reached the defaulters. 

“The reasons given by the minister were insufficient addresses, debtor unknown at the address, debtor moved and the premises was locked and the sheriff could not gain access,” said Outa spokesperson Rudie Heyneke.

“If the above-mentioned figures are taken as a guideline, it is impossible to see how Sanral would be able to see this through. Keep in mind, there are still about 2.2million summonses to be issued and served. 

“In three years, they could only serve 3724 on e-toll defaulters.”
Outa believes Sanral is wasting its time and resources by continuing to issue summons to drivers. 

“We call on Sanral, as we have done in the past, to stop issuing summonses and waste millions on legal costs, until the test case between Sanral and the defendants who are represented by Outa’s attorneys, is finalised,” said Heyneke.

“We cannot dictate to Sanral, but do hope that sanity will prevail and that they will adhere to our requests in this regard.”
However, Sanral said it would continue pursuing defaulting Gauteng motorists.

“The collection of outstanding toll is an ongoing process that started in 2015 with various debt collection components, each with its own timelines,” said Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona. “The issuing of civil summonses is only one of these components and not all debtors are in this part of the process.”
Last month, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande made it clear that the e-tolls system would not be scrapped.

Speaking to the SABC, Nzimande said: “I want to be honest with you We understand the public sentiment but at the same time we have got another problem that many people do not want to deal with.
“We owe an amount in today’s terms of R67billion. That’s the amount we owe on the building of these wonderful freeways. The issue is who is going to pay and how are we going to pay.”

Outa, however, believes that Sanral is fighting a war it will never win.
“With every summons issued and served, Sanral is showing their intention to take people to court,” said Heyneke.

“What is interesting is that there are 2404 summonses that were served but not defended. To date, we have not heard about one default judgment taken by Sanral. Surely the matters that were not defended will have judgments for millions of rands. Why don’t they execute? 

“Are they really serious about getting judgments or are they just using the legal process to bully the public into payment? Surely the latter.”
Outa said it was committed to standing behind every South African issued with a summons by Sanral. 

The Saturday Star