The court case against the introduction of e-tolls by the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) on Gauteng roads will go on, Judge Bill Prinsloo ruled in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday. His judgment followed arguments by lawyers for the National Treasury, Sanral and the national and provincial ministers of transport who opposed the urgency of the matter.
Meanwhile, Cosatu has put its planned anti-toll protest action for Monday on hold. Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, also urged motorists on SABC radio on Thursday to refrain from purchasing e-tags. “We're urging the public, make this thing unworkable," he said.
In court, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and other applicants have joined forces to challenge e-tolling in Gauteng by applying for an urgent interdict at the High Court. Judge Prinsloo said: “I agree with this submission made by the applicants (Outa). The widespread public interest and the protesting … should persuade me to hear the matter.” Prinsloo added that lawyers for Sanral, National Treasury, the national transport minister and the Gauteng transport minister did not persuade him that the Outa application was an abuse of the court.
However, Outa was severely lambasted by Sanral and its partners on Tuesday for taking the matter to court so close to the e-tolling’s planned implementation date of 30 April. They argued that Outa wasn’t entitled to have another postponement of the province’s e-tolling system, as the toll declaration had been made as far back as March 2008.
Vincent Maleka, legal representative for the Minister of Transport, argued Outa only gave one reason for the postponement of tolling: motorists would suffer because of the price. But Alistair Franklin, for Outa, later countered that the numerous delays and postponements by by Sanral in the past were clear indications that the timeframe for e-tolling was unclear.
“The target date was ambiguous. We only knew when launch will be in late February and that is why this interdict application is only being heard now,” he said. The continues in the North Gauteng High Court.