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Go into politics, Sanral tells Outa

Jun 05 2013 22:35 Sapa, Fin24

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage. (File photo, Lucky Nxumalo)

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Johannesburg - The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) said the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) should not waste money in court and instead go into politics if it wanted to effect change.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein is expected to be hear outa's case to scrap e-tolling on Gauteng's highways on September 25 and 26.

On Wednesday, Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenhage said it might have to drop its court challenge if it does not raise R1m in three weeks.

"There is a very real chance, if we do not get this money, this matter will not be heard," he said in an appeal for money at a press conference.

It had so far raised R8.4m through donations, and still owed about R3m in legal fees. Without the R1m payment to lawyers, the case might not go ahead.

Sanral said if it wanted to effect change, it should go into politics. Spokesperson Vusi Mona said the Constitutional Court had ruled that the change Outa sought lay in the executive sphere, with its elected representatives.

"Should Outa wish to bring about policy changes, it would have to enter the political field," said Mona. "The Constitutional Court has spoken on this: why waste money on going against this decision?"

Outa had until June 21 to raise the money.

Funding

It had so far raised R8.4m through donations, and still owed about R3m in legal fees. Without the R1m payment to lawyers, the case might not go ahead.

Outa had received donations towards its legal fees from more than 200 businesses. Some were in the region of R100 000 - or the amount the companies would have paid in toll fees for their fleets.

It had also received donations from about 7 780 individuals. These had started from around R20.

During the news conference, two organisations announced that they would throw their weight behind Outa.

Black Management Forum Gauteng management committee member Stan Itshegetseng said it wanted to dispel the notion that it was only "fair skinned" people who had an interest in the case.

"It is going to increase the general cost of living," he said.

The QuadPara Association also supported the court action, representative Joseph Machweu said. E-tolling would make travelling more costly for its members, he said.

Duvenage said that while lawyers had donated some of their services, they still had costs they could not cover themselves in what was a technical case.

The announcement that the cap for toll fees would drop from R550 to R450 had not made a difference, he said.

Outa believed the government should concentrate on covering the cost of the road, not of technologies such as licence plate tracking. It should cover the road maintenance costs through the fuel levy.

Plea to MP's

SA Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) justice and peace department co-ordinator Father Mike Deeb called on the government and Members of Parliament not to go ahead with the project.

The SACBC recently joined a wide range of NGOs and civil society groups opposed to e-tolling.

He said the church knew it was difficult to oppose e-tolling and for MPs not to vote in favour of it, but he urged them not to co-operate.

In April, Sanral said it would begin e-tolling on Gauteng roads within two months.

Last April, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted Outa an interdict approving a full judicial review before e-tolling could be implemented.

The interdict prevented Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review. Sanral and the National Treasury appealed the court order.

In September, the Constitutional Court set aside the interim order.

In December, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed Outa's application to scrap e-tolling and granted it leave on January 25 to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

 - Sapa, Fin24



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