SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) spokesperson Vusi Mona has come under fire for acknowledging that the Aarto Act will deal with e-toll infringements, whereas three years ago he denied this would be the case.
In a statement yesterday, Justice Project SA (JPSA) chairperson Howard Dembovsky said Mona previously accused JPSA of confusing two different legal processes – the Aarto process and prosecution regarding the Criminal Procedures Act.
“For two years he has been telling people ‘we are going to arrest you’,” said Dembovsky. “Now, he acknowledges the Act deals with infringements. He has shown his true colours.”
Sanral said yesterday proposed amendments to the Aarto Act were “positive for motorists” and “the only amendment to provisions relating to toll infringements is the removal of the demerit points for the failure to comply with a toll sign”.
Mona said failure to pay tolls had been an infringement under the legislation since 2008.
“One of the few accurate statements contained in that release was Mona’s new-found acknowledgement that he and his colleagues at Sanral have, from the outset and until yesterday, repeatedly, consistently and vociferously maintained that nonpayment of e-tolls was a criminal offence, for which offenders would incur a criminal record if, or when, convicted,” said Dembovsky.
He charged that Mona was “either grossly misinformed or completely ignorant of both the provisions of the Aarto Act and its regulations, as well as the proposed amendments thereto since many of the assertions contained in that statement are far from factual”.
The removal of demerit points for drivers of vehicles requiring an operator’s card under charge code 3821 of Schedule 3 of the Aarto Regulations is far from the “only amendment to provisions relating to toll infringements”, Dembovsky added.
“Save for the issuing authority codes contained in Schedule 4 thereof, every other amendment is quite clearly aimed at making things easier and cheaper for Sanral to prosecute toll, and more particularly, e-toll infringers under the Aarto Act.”
JPSA was of the view that the Aarto Act did not cater for this, thus rendering this proposed action unlawful. Mona had not responded to JPSA’s latest remarks by the time of going to print.
The Opposition to the Urban Tolling Alliance has, meanwhile, said it was in awe of more than 117 000 submissions made on amendments to the Aarto Act to accommodate e-toll infringements.
“This is arguably the largest amount of submissions ever received by government to proposed legislation amendments,” Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said.
“This overwhelming public participation to a gazette is an indication of a growing active citizenry on a grand scale.
“It is also another major step in the fight against the government’s efforts to coerce motorists into paying e-tolls.”