The rights of Gauteng road users who are not members of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) should be protected as much as those drivers who are members of the civil rights body, says the Automobile Association.
In a statement issued on Monday, the AA pointed out that the current debate between roads agency Sanral and Outa about prosecutions to e-toll defaulters had not addressed the legal position of drivers who are not Outa members.
“Whatever the situation may be, this current round of debate in the media between the two parties is not bringing any clarity to Gauteng road users on how they must proceed in relation to e-tolls. Many road users still do not pay for e-tolls, and are anxious for a final legal ruling. In light of this, we urge both Sanral and Outa to consider that this is not benefiting anyone,” stated the AA.
Earlier this month, Outa said an agreement had been reached with Sanral not prosecute its members for defaulting on e-toll payments. However, Sanral refuted these claims, saying that they were false and that Outa was using this as a strategy to grow its membership.
In response to this, Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said: “Our membership base, which consists of tens of thousands of individuals, families and businesses, is growing every day.”
According to Outa, the agreement applies to current and future members with outstanding e-toll accounts. These drivers will not be prosecuted until a test case to determine the legality of e-tolls on the Gauteng freeway improvement project is completed. The case, which started in June 2016, may take two years to complete.
“The agreement effectively grants the entire Outa member community immunity until the case is complete. Our aim is to show that e-tolling is unlawful in the test case and should we succeed, the stay of legal claims will become permanent,” Duvenage said.
However, the AA is concerned about the limited reach of the agreement. “We believe there are many motorists who are not, or do not intend to be, members of Outa, or who are members of other organisations. Their rights should similarly be protected one way or another,” stated the AA.
The association stated that the protection is limited to a “specific group of individuals” which makes it unfair, and possibly unconstitutional. The AA also noted that if an agreement was indeed reached, then a joint statement by both parties should have been released to confirm it.
The AA also wants Sanral and Outa to resolve the issue promptly.
“We are dismayed at what seems to be endless delays in bringing this matter to finality, a situation that is not benefiting the most important players in all of this, Gauteng motorists.”