Court puts brakes on e-tolls
THE South African National Road Agency Limited's e-tolls received a setback after a Pretoria High Court judge ruled that the matter was urgent. The ruling by Judge Bill Prinsloo means the system cannot go live on Monday, as was planned.
An application to prevent Sanral from implementing the highly contentious system was brought before court by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) - a group made up of business people who want to halt the implementation of the system.
Outa drew first blood yesterday when Prinsloo ruled that Sanral, National Treasury, the national Department of Transport and the Gauteng department of roads and transport failed to convince him that the matter was not urgent.
Following that decision, the court then heard arguments for and against an interdict lodged by Outa to prevent the system from going ahead.
Prinsloo also said he had not been convinced that Outa's application was an abuse of the court, as was advanced by Sanral and fellow respondents.
Though Prinsloo said he would give a final ruling on the matter today, he said that he could not be persuaded by the defendants that Outa's application was an abuse of the court.
Sanral's lawyer David Unterhalter SC told the court that members of Outa had not opposed the system when the declaration of the tolls was first published in 2008.
However, the judge ruled otherwise, stating that Outa would have gotten ahead of themselves had they raised objections about the system then.
"The finance minister only announced in February during the budget vote speech that the e-tolling would go ahead on April 30," Prinsloo said.
"It is apparent that the fate of e-tolling was uncertain. It would have been premature to oppose it then," Prinsloo said.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that the government would pledge R5.8-billion towards payment of the R20-billion borrowed for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme.
Outa's legal representative Alistair Franklin SC insisted that opposition to the implementation of e-tolling was urgent, though the parties still had to meet at the review court next week.
He said if the urgent application was not granted, it would mean road users would be subjected to the tolling, while the matter dragged on for months - possibly three months - before reaching conclusion.
Prinsloo is expected to rule on the interdict application today.