The Pretoria High Court has handed down the first judgement for failing to pay outstanding e-tolls, giving the sheriff the right to to seize property and sell it to raise the funds for the outstanding amount, according to a report by Moneyweb.
According to the report, the court granted the default judgement against an Alberton-based company in January on the grounds that the debtor had an outstanding toll amount of R436,407.57. The court further ordered to pay interest at the rate of 10.25% as well as the relevant sheriff’s fees.
According to the head of Justice Project South Africa, Howard Dembovsky, the ruling means very little for motorists outside demonstrating that if you simply ignore a civil summons for “debt”, a default judgment is likely.
The ruling is also unlikely to impact the ‘test e-toll case’ currently being formulated by civil action group Outa, Demobovsky said.
“My advice to motorists is what it has always been. If you aren’t paying e-tolls and receive a summons – defend it.”
“The fact is that if one does not defend any civil claim for debt, whether it be for e-tolls or anything else, a default judgment will most likely result. There is nothing ‘precedent setting’ about that.”
Dembovsky said that it is important to note that the company concerned in this judgment is apparently under voluntary liquidation.
“It is therefore hardly surprising that it didn’t defend the matter since doing so would have cost them money they obviously don’t have. The decision to enter into voluntary liquidation is generally reached after considerable thought has been given to the financial position of a business and is seldom done lightly.”
“However no-one wakes up one morning and says to themselves ‘let’s wind up our successful and profitable business’. ”
The JPSA head said that Sanral for got a judgment against an entity that didn’t even defend the matter.
“One down – around 3 million to go.”
Despite indications that Sanral is finally making good on its threats to collect on outstanding e-toll amounts, Gauteng premier David Makhura admitted the failing of the toll system in his 20 February State of the Province address.
He further promised that there there would be no new e-tolls on Gauteng roads.
This failure was echoed by statistics published by lobby group OUTA who noted that as of the end of 2016, there was currently R6.3 billion in outstanding tolls.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenhage noted that currently only one in five users pay for e-tolls, with 2.9 million motorists “in debt”.