Yadhana Jadoo
Political Editor
1 minute read
9 Apr 2014
6:00 am

More court staff for e-toll cases?

Yadhana Jadoo

Should there be a mass refusal to pay e-tolls, it could change the face of South African courts.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe cuts the ribbon at the official opening of the SA National Roads Agency Limited's central operations centre in Centurion on Tuesday, 8 April 2014. Motlanthe is accompanied by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Sanral chief executive Nazir Alli. The objective was to improve the safety of motorists and reduce the impact of accidents, Motlanthe said. The centre was responsible for monitoring freeways, responding to accidents, and medical assistance, and would provide towing services. Motlanthe said 1.2 million e-tags had been purchased. More than 1,300 people were employed at the centre. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

The Justice Department has said it is “considering” the capacity of the courts’ to deal with the intense volume of e-toll prosecutions in the future.

Thousands of non-compliant motorists, who refuse to pay their e-toll bills, may further prompt the department to hire extra staff.

Matters would be dealt with through normal courts, similar to “any other any other possible traffic violation”, department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

“We are considering the information furnished by Sanral, in order to consider our court capacity, which could entail additional staffing, if required, to deal with any possible criminal charges arising out of any possible contraventions.

“The National Prosecuting Authority was currently also considering their capacity to deal with any such possible prosecutions. However, no actual cases had yet gone to court or are in fact ready for court.”

Sanral’s Chief Financial Officer Inge Mulder said last week that Sanral had already tested the prosecution process with the court system. “The way that the system works is [that] we actually roll up the invoices. By the time we give the information to the courts it is a single bill for a single person and that is all done electronically. We have given them the information, they indicated to us in what format.”

A huge number could be processed in a single day, she said. But Mhaga said that there have been no tests conducted on this.

Justice Project SA chairperson Howard Dembovsky said that while the justice department saw fit to increase staff to prosecute e-toll offences, it was “not doing anything of the sort to speed up prosecutions for serious, violent crimes”. “This sends the clear message that government has its priorities, and collecting monies takes preference over protecting citizens from real criminals.”