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OUTA Steadfast in Defending Motorists Against E-Toll Debt Amid Conflicting Government Statements

Published February 28, 2024
4 months ago

In a complex narrative that has spanned nearly a decade, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has positioned itself as a titan defending motorists against the controversial e-toll system in South Africa. The latest chapter unfolds with OUTA affirming its commitment to protect those summoned by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) for outstanding e-toll debt. This assurance comes amid contrasting statements from various government representatives and a history of contention and protest against the e-tolling system initiated in 2013.

The organization's pledge follows comments from the National Treasury's deputy director-general of public finance, Mampho Modise, who suggested Gauteng's agreement to pursue debt collection. OUTA's CEO, Wayne Duvenage, labeled these remarks as perplexing given that e-toll debts are in Sanral's purview, not the Gauteng provincial government's. Adding to the quagmire, e-toll enforcement seems to have dwindled, with no new summons issued since 2019 and many of the existing debts potentially prescribed.

The narrative of the e-tolls' demise was evidently solidified in October 2022 when Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana declared the end of e-tolls, followed by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi's backtrack on his commitment to refund those who complied and paid their e-toll fees. Lesufi recently stirred the pot, signaling the official e-toll cessation by March 31, 2023, and announcing the provincial government's intent to financially contribute to settling Sanral's e-toll debt.

These conflicting reports, especially in an election year, have thrown OUTA and the public into a state of confusion. Whereas government figures continue to give mixed signals about the e-toll system's fate, OUTA firmly grasps its legal challenge against the constitutionality and enforceability of e-tolls, a substantial aspect that contests the scheme's legality. OUTA remains steadfast, equipped with its legal team that has been adamantly defending 2028 cases since February 2019.

Despite Sanral's 2019 resolution halting new e-toll summonses, these existing cases lie dormant in legal suspension, trapping motorists and OUTA in a befuddling state. Duvenage ardently declares that OUTA will not yield to the government's "irrational" debt collection plans on an e-toll system the government itself declared defunct.

Since its implementation, the e-toll system in Gauteng has met stiff resistance from motorists and organizations like OUTA and Automobile Association (AA). Data reveals a mere 10-12% compliance from road users for e-toll payments. The narrative that unfolds in the coming months may prove crucial as the e-toll saga nears its anticipated climax, with OUTA remaining a central figure in the judicial and public discourse.

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