This is the view of organisations opposing the system who, following yesterday’s court outcome, were further of the opinion that while CSIR biochemist, Dr Stoyan Hristov Stoychev, broke the law to avoid paying his bill, this case was not related to e-tolling.
However, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona, who was in court, and in welcoming the verdict said: “We hope the public will see this case for what it is. That evading e-tolls is a criminal offence. The sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense.”
Stoychev was convicted on one charge of fraud and a second charge relating to 988 counts of contravention of the Sanral Act and the National Roads Act 7 of 1998. He pleaded guilty and entered into a plea bargain with the State.
He had changed his number plate from a “C” to and “O”, and at times drove without a number plate on the freeway from Johannesburg to Pretoria.
Effectively he was sentenced to a R20 000 fine, 100 hours community service at the SPCA, and now has to pay his outstanding e-toll bills which amount to more than R14 000.
Also included in his sentence handed down by Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair was a 12 month suspended sentence for five years on certain conditions. Mona believed the plea agreement was “fair” to Stoychev and also the victims – in this case the state and the “innocent person who’s license number he cloned”.
Outa chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, said Sanral used the court outcome as an “opportunistic tactic, borne out of their desperation to try and create fear in the minds of road users who have not paid their e-toll bills.
“Sanral have seized… this incident and blown it out of all proportion to intimidate motorists. Since the e-toll scheme was launched 21-months ago, we know of no summons initiated by Sanral or the NPA which seeks to address the wide-scale (over 1,6 million motorists) non-payment of e-tolls.”
Duvenhage said Stoychev was convicted because he was an irresponsible motorist who committed an unlawful act and illustrated what Outa has constantly said: “…Do not break the law by using cloned or false number-plates. Doing so will give Sanral an opening to effectively extort money out of you to pay off what Outa maintains is an odious debt.”
Nair found Stoychev acted intentionally and in his plea agreement agreed that by displaying a number plate registered to another e-toll user, he caused the motorist to suffer prejudice.