'Toll will punish my kids severely'
The implementation of the Gauteng e-toll system will leave many low-income households in an unbearable financial situation, said a protester outside the High Court in Pretoria.
Hilda Maphoroma, a Roodepoort resident, said she had joined the court application seeking an interdict preventing the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) from launching the contentious e-toll scheme on April 30.
“I take my children every day to school and we use these roads. When I want to go to work I have to use the roads and I'm not sure how they expect us to manage,” she said emotionally.
“They are putting our lives in danger with this system. The implementation will mean I will not be able to go to work. I will not be able to take my children to school because of the financial implication,” said Maphoroma.
She said she was employed by the Norwood Spar in Johannesburg.
Eight lawyers and their juniors were in court on Tuesday representing both sides in the court application filed by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).
Advocate Owen Bloomberg, a member of Outa's legal team, said Maphoroma epitomised the general Gauteng resident who “has been pushed to the verge”.
“The minister of transport has conceded that the benefits (of the toll roads) which were being promised by Sanral are not real. We have other individuals who will also be submitting applications to halt this e-toll system,” he said.
“There is no integrated public transport system in the country leaving the millions of people to rely on their cars on these roads which shall be out of reach for many,” he said.
Bloomberg said Tuesday's court deliberations would centre around "technical arguments regarding the parties to be involved in the court battle".
National Treasury's application to intervene in the urgent interdict to stop the launch of the e-tolling system was granted earlier by the High Court. Judge Bill Prinsloo allowed the application because there was no objection from the opposition.
Despite a heavy police presence, defiant motorists hooted and shouted their disapproval of e-tolls outside the court on Vermeulen street in Pretoria.
Scores of Democratic Alliance supporters had braved the cold weather and were gathered outside the court.
Dressed in uniform blue, the lively protesters led by the DA leader in the Gauteng legislature, Jack Bloom, sang and waved posters with messages opposing tolling of the Gauteng roads.
The posters read: "Hoot for a toll free GP" and "e-thief".
"This massive wailing and hooting you are witnessing now is the widespread public opposition to toll roads," said Bloom.
"The toll roads have united people of Gauteng in protest. Public opinion must be heard and respected all the time," he said.
Bloom said the DA wanted a five-months delay to the implementation of the system “to sort out issues first”.
He said multitudes of DA supporters would have flocked to the court but the number of protesters was limited by the permit granted by the Tshwane metro municipality.