Court asked to terminate eNatis contract immediately

The Department of Transport has resorted to the High Court in Pretoria in a bid to enforce an order to terminate immediately a multibillion rand contract with the company that manages the country’s electronic national traffic information system (eNatis).

The department on Wednesday asked Judge Wendy Hughes to implement the judgment she passed on June 23‚ in which she found that the contract Tasima has held for nearly 15 years had been invalid from 2010.

In that judgment‚ Hughes declared that the extension of the eNatis system contract from 2010 to 2015 by former transport department director-general George Mahlalela to Tasima was invalid from the date of extension.

She ordered the department to request the transfer of the eNatis system and related services within five days of the date of the order‚ and that the transfer be completed within 30 days from the date of the request.

Tasima immediately applied for leave to appeal but the date for the application has not been set.

The Superior Courts Act provides that the operation and execution of a decision that is a subject of an application for leave to appeal is suspended pending the decision. However‚ the court may order otherwise if a party that applies to the court shows that it would suffer irreparable harm.

The department on Wednesday presented arguments in support of the immediate implementation of the judge’s order.

David Unterhalter SC‚ for the department‚ said the court should not allow Tasima to enjoy the fruits of the contract that Judge Hughes had found to be unlawful.

“Let Tasima go to every court in the land‚ if they so wish. In the meantime‚ legality must prevail‚” Unterhalter said.

He said there were three investigations which showed that the 2010 contract extension by Mahlalela was invalid. These included the Auditor-General’s report and investigations by the department of transport and forensic firm Gobodo.

Unterhalter said the Gobodo report found that the department of transport had paid Tasima in the region of R1.7-billion between May 2010 and October 2013.

Unterhalter said the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) should be allowed to do its job of managing eNatis.

However‚ counsel for Tasima‚ Alistair Franklin SC‚ said the future appeal by Tasima would be rendered academic if the June judgment was implemented immediately.

“The maintenance of the status quo makes the most sense and is the most practical. It avoids prejudicing both parties.”

Franklin said the application before the court was a strategy by the department and the RTMC to force Tasima out the eNatis contract.

He said this followed the poaching of Tasima staff which would allow the RTMC to “walk in” and manage eNatis.

The court reserved judgment.