Believing that the South African National Roads Agency Limited and the National Prosecuting Authority were about to start prosecuting motorists who had refused to pay e-tolls, the alliance said it was prepared to pick up the legal representation costs of the first person to receive a summons over unpaid e-toll bills.
“In this campaign, we want to assist individual citizens who are prosecuted and who share Outa’s belief that e-tolling is unlawful, in saying to Sanral and the government, ‘if you want to govern us and if you want to toll us, you must do it lawfully,’” the alliance’s chairperson Wayne Duvenage said.
Howard Dembovsky of Justice Project South Africa said many motorists had been threatened with prosecution, but they had yet to actually receive a summons.
Duvenage said the alliance had approached the roads agency and the prosecuting authority, requesting that any prosecutions should be delayed until a resolution was found by the panel tasked with reviewing the impact of e-tolling, which was established by Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
However, the request was rejected.
As a result, the alliance launched the Rule of Law campaign to challenge the roads agency’s course of action by prosecution, Duvenage said.
The campaign was not about civil disobedience, he added.
“The Rule of Law campaign is to help individual citizens resist the enforcement of an e-tolling system against them, one that they believe is unlawful.”
He said the alliance needed public donations of between R3 million to R4 million for expected legal costs.
Duvenhage added that any surplus funds would be used to pay off the alliance’s past debts or be donated to other civil organisations.
This would not be the first time that the alliance has taken its fight against e-tolling to court.
In 2012, the alliance approached the high court to halt e-tolling on the province’s freeways. Last year the high court ruled that e-tolling could proceed because the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project had been lawfully instituted.
The Supreme Court of Appeal then dismissed an appeal by the alliance.
However, if the alliance’s latest legal bid undertaken through the Rule of Law campaign failed, it would abandon the campaign and its opposition to the system, Duvenage said.