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Previous media releases are available here.

JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, CRIME & TRANSPORT EDITORS
DATE: 2014/04/04
SUBJECT: CLARITY ON SANRAL E-TOLLS PROSECUTIONS

JOHANNESBURG - It has come to our attention that SANRAL’s CFO, Ms Inge Mulder has made a claim that the courts will easily cope with the volumes of e-toll prosecutions SANRAL intends bringing at some time in the future, citing the “rollup” of offences into a single summons as her reasoning for this.

Whilst it is true that SANRAL may indeed, through the clerk of the court, issue a single summons to an INDIVIDUAL – citing multiple counts of the same offence, it is NOT true that “bulk decisions will be made” against similar cases as was suggested by John Robbie and agreed with by Ms Mulder. 

Each and every offender will HAVE TO be summonsed INDIVIDUALLY for their own matter and the normal criminal justice system and procedures will apply in line with the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act.  Ms Mulder also said that the courts could “process a huge amount of them every day” and this is somewhat optimistic, given the current workload on the courts.

Ms Mulder has stated that, of the 2.5 million daily road users – which could equate to a much higher actual number of vehicles, given that both SANRAL and the Minister of Transport have said that not all vehicles/users use the GFIP every day – 1.2 million have registered with SANRAL.

She then cites this as limiting the amount of individuals that will have to be summonsed and prosecuted but seems to forget that this still leaves 1.3 million users at minimum who are NOT registered.  If a mere 10% of those people do not pay, then 130,000 INDIVIDUAL summonses will have to be issued and served and those who don’t pay admission of guilt fines – thereby automatically incurring a criminal record – will have to be tried in court.

The collective lower (Magistrates) courts in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni simply cannot deal with such volumes and even if they could, Magistrates whose pensions are invested in SANRAL e-tolls bonds would be hard-pressed to demonstrate their impartiality in these matters and hence, why they should not recuse themselves from presiding over the matters.

JPSA has repeatedly stated that the South African criminal justice system, let alone the courts in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni cannot deal with the volume of e-tolls prosecutions that will have to ensue at some stage or another and we maintain this stance. 

We also maintain our stance that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act applies in the jurisdictions of the JMPD and the TMPD and to date, despite having referred the matter to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development after an initial dismissive response by SANRAL’s attorneys, the Minister of Transport has still failed to answer our lawyer’s letter dated 26 November 2013 and subsequent letters thereafter.

Whatever happens, a “test case” will have to be brought before the High Court to establish whether the methodology behind e-toll prosecutions is correct and indeed, whether defaulters may be prosecuted in the manner that SANRAL is proposing.  Zwelinzima Vavi, Mark Heywood, Bishop Geoff Davies, Wayne Duvenage, Father Mike Deeb, Kay Sexwale and Howard Dembovsky have all invited such a test case by refusing to pay e-tolls but it remains to be seen whether SANRAL and the NPA has the guts to take these offers up.

So in summary – this is the process that will HAVE TO be followed by SANRAL:

  1. Issue final demands and deliver them by REGISTERED mail;
  2. If ignored, gather each count into a summons in terms of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977) for EACH INDIVIDUAL;
  3. Get court dates for each of the individual summonses;
  4. Have the Sheriff , a traffic officer or a policeman serve summonses on individuals;
  5. Have the matter heard in a competent and unbiased criminal Court.

ONLY if an individual pays an admission of guilt fine or is found guilty in court will they get a criminal record.

702 interview can be heard here.


JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, CRIME & TRANSPORT EDITORS
DATE: 2014/04/02
SUBJECT: SANRAL THREATS OF “JAIL TIME” A GANTRY TO FAR

JOHANNESBURG – It takes a lot to shock Justice Project South Africa but when the 2014/04/02 - 18:30 Eyewitness News on Talk Radio 702 and Highveld Stereo; and subsequent bulletins thereafter led with the headline “Pay up – or face jail time”, we really thought our ears were deceiving us.

The latest attempts at scaremongering comes hot on the heels of the revelation in Parliament that SANRAL has spent R54.74 million in order to collect R50.02 million and that up to 1 March 2014, over a half a billion Rand is outstanding in unpaid e-tolls over the three month period under review.

“Clearly whoever made this threat must have come to the realisation that previous threats of criminal records and credit blacklisting – based on an Act that exempts itself from the National Credit Act – have had a limited effect,” said JPSA chairman, Howard Dembovsky. 

“What SANRAL doesn’t seem to realise is that South Africans have been subjected to similar tyrannical threats by the previous regime and they didn’t cave in then – so why would they cave in now?” he continued.

It also appears that someone at SANRAL has decided to dispense with the troublesome formality of conducting trials and now feels that they can jump straight to sentencing people to jail time.  After all, since all Magistrates just so happen to have their pensions tied up in the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) investment in e-tolling, there isn’t a single Magistrate in South Africa who will be able to hear an e-tolls prosecution without bias.

We suspect that SANRAL has now overplayed its hand and gone a gantry too far with its threats, and may well find that instead of managing to scare more people into compliance, they will simply strengthen the resolve of e-toll dissidents to resist, since there is absolutely no way that the courts will willingly dismantle the Gauteng economy by jailing what, at the bare minimum, will be hundreds of thousands of economically active citizens – even if they could manage the volumes.

SANRAL has a sizable pool of willing volunteers to be prosecuted if/when they decide to do so and none of them have asked for the additional 30 days to pay that is allegedly being offered.  Zwelinzima Vavi, Mark Heywood, Bishop Geoff Davies, Wayne Duvenage, Fr Mike Deeb, Kay Sexwale and Howard Dembovsky have all invited prosecution by refusing to pay e-tolls.  

If SANRAL chooses to pick on someone else instead, they will merely be proving that they are both, the bullies and cowards they have thus far proven themselves to be by engaging in intimidation and extortion tactics on public platforms.

Considering that the conviction rate for dangerous road traffic offences like driving under the influence of alcohol is reportedly 7.5% (Kwazulu-Natal) and excessive speed to the tune of 173km/h in a 120km/h zone has led to charges being withdrawn against Itumeleng Khune in return for 10 hours community service, it’s not difficult to see where the priorities lie.  Tackling South Africa’s unacceptably high road death toll is clearly way less important to the Department of Transport's SANRAL than tackling non-payment of tolls, now isn’t it?


TO: ALL NEWS EDITORS
DATE: 2014/03/26
SUBJECT: HANDS OFF OUR PUBLIC PROTECTOR!

JOHANNESBURG – Following repeated verbal and written attacks on the integrity of the office of the Public Protector and Advocate Madonsela herself, Justice Project South Africa, early this morning launched a campaign entitled “Hands Off our Public Protector” while Advocate Madonsela was being interviewed on Jacaranda’s Complimentary Breakfast.

Hands Off our Public Protector!

Within minutes our tweet (and variations of it tagging other Twitter handles) had been retweeted far and wide and we are very encouraged by the public support that is already being shown for our campaign.

We are planning to hold a march to the offices of the Public Protector in Pretoria sometime in April and are currently busy with plans and arrangements to facilitate this.

“This will not be a protest as such, but more of a public show of support. We feel that the Public Protector could do with some support for the essential work that she and her office does and sending the message out to her detractors to lay off is equally important,” said JPSA’s Howard Dembovsky.

“It should also be noted that this campaign is not only in response to the Nkandla Report and there is a report on a complaint we lodged with the office of the Public Protector some time ago looming for publication in the very near future,” he said.

Dembovsky emphasised the point that the campaign was completely apolitical and that JPSA would not welcome or tolerate any participation by political parties of any description in the campaign.

We have noted that coincidentally, the Freedom Front Plus has today also launched a campaign in support of the Public Protector.  We wish to point out that we were completely unaware of their plans to do so and we distance ourselves from ANY political party events, no matter what they are for.

JPSA will make an announcement with respect to the planned date and time of our march in due course.


JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS & TRANSPORT EDITORS
DATE: 2014/03/06
SUBJECT: REGISTERED E-TOLLS USERS NOT WHAT IS BEING ADVERTISED - MINISTER

JOHANNESBURG – Justice Project South Africa was somewhat astonished to hear the truth being set forth in Parliament by Minister Dipuo Peters on Wednesday 5 March 2014, wherein her answers to how many registrations for SANRAL’s e-tolls have taken place make a complete mockery of both, SANRAL’s advertising and the assertions of Mr Nazir Alli.

In her answer to the question asked by DA MP Ian Ollis as to how many registrations had taken place to 1 February 2014 she stated that the number was 912,048 registrations as at 31 January 2014 – of which 49,987 were for local, provincial and national government vehicles. It must also be borne in mind that a significant proportion of these registrations must apply to vehicles exempted from paying e-tolls.

SANRAL has been thanking the “more than 1.2 million registered users” of the GFIP for more than a week now – at the very least – in their radio adverts. Additionally, Mr Nazir Alli – CEO of SANRAL did the same on 28 February 2014 on the John Robbie’s show on Talk Radio 702.

“It is very difficult, if not impossible to believe that more than 287,952 new registrations would have taken place in the 28 days in February, especially in light of the fact that SANRAL’s repeated claims that around 35,000 registrations take place a week,” said Howard Dembovsky, chairperson of JPSA. “A figure of more than 10,000 registrations per day, every single day in the month of February, is simply too difficult to swallow, no matter how SANRAL chooses to spin it,” he continued.

Furthermore, the statement by Minister Peters that between 23% and 28% of the daily users of Gauteng’s e-roads have e-tags indicates that a stunning 72% don’t, which is most certainly not the impression that SANRAL is portraying. 

According to SANRAL’s own “research”, around 2.5 million vehicles use the GFIP daily. This means that 1.8 million of them don’t have e-tags. SANRAL has not hesitated to label research conducted by OUTA as “unscientific”, but now it emerges that in fact, OUTA’s research was anything but inaccurate.

If SANRAL is indeed getting paid “more than R300 million a month” on e-tolls, as was claimed by Nazir Alli on Friday 28 February 2014, from up to 28% of their registered users and some of the unregistered users who may have paid, then the assertions by Mr Patrick Craven of COSATU that the e-toll tariffs are way too high hold a great deal of water.

The so-called “advantages” of e-tolling question raised by Ms Ruth Bhengu wherein the Minister referred to the delays caused by lack of maintenance to the freeways prior to the completion of the GFIP was also laughable. 

“Surely there is no roads authority, apart from SANRAL and the Department of Transport, anywhere in the world that would have the audacity to even think that a roads network installed in the 1970's, more than 40 years prior would cater for the natural, dramatically increased vehicle population?” asked Dembovsky.

 “If anything, all this answer has done is to highlight how the fuel levy and other taxes have ‘evaporated’ into thin air, instead of being used to maintain, and indeed, upgrade our roads infrastructure. It is certainly no justification for e-tolling,” he continued.

“The time for SANRAL to stop overtly lying to the public has long since passed, as has the time for them to face reality and understand that no matter how many times a lie is repeated, it remains a lie. The people of Gauteng and South Africa do not need ‘to raise their IQ’. They are not stupid – no matter what Vusi Mona, Nazir Alli and SANRAL wish to call them or suggest they do.”

614 words

Reference: Parliamentary Plenary Session of 5 March 2014 on YouTube starting at 01:09:34:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnNzsSC0lac


MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, TRANSPORT & CRIME EDITORS
DATE: 2014/02/25
SUBJECT: FINES4U WINS JUDGMENT AGAINST JMPD

JOHANNESBURG – Traffic Fines Management company Fines4U (Pty) Ltd has been awarded a judgment against the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, ordering the JMPD to stop violating the rights of the company by abusing and interfering with processes under the AARTO Act.

In November 2012, Burger Attorneys*, on behalf of Fines4U and Vaal Car Hire filed an application citing five illegally served AARTO infringement notices sent by the JMPD and the ensuing illegal actions taken by the JMPD.  The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Road Traffic Infringement Agency, Minister of Transport and Minister of Police were cited as respondents.

Only the JMPD and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality decided to oppose the application and in December 2012, the JMPD cancelled the five infringement notices in a clear attempt to render the application moot.  The matter was heard in the South Gauteng High Court on 29 January 2014 and judgment was reserved.

Justice Andre Gautschi awarded judgment in favour of Fines4U and Vaal Car Hire, with costs against the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department on 25 February 2014. 

In his judgement, Justice Andre Gautschi ruled that a proxy for a juristic entity is entitled to elect to be tried in court under AARTO and affirmed that the appointment of representations officers in the employ of the JMPD up to 22 December 2012 was unlawful and in direct contravention of the AARTO Act and a determination of the Minister of Transport.

“This judgment shows that despite taking a long time and requiring significant financial investment, justice does prevail if you have the guts and determination to go the distance, not to mention the funds to invest in good legal arguments,” said Howard Dembovsky, chairman of Justice Project South Africa. 

“We congratulate Fines4U for showing the moral fortitude to not simply roll over and let the threats of the JMPD force them into capitulating to unfair and illegal practices,” he concluded.

*Attorney Anton Burger is a Director of Justice Project South Africa
**
Justice Andre Gautschi's judgment is available here.


JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, TRANSPORT & CRIME EDITORS
DATE: 2014/01/26
SUBJECT: SANRAL E-TOLLS TERMS & CONDITIONS DON’T COMPLY WITH CPA - NCC

On Friday 24 January 2014, the National Consumer Commission’s Head of Advocacy, Education and Awareness, Ms Phumeze Mlungu stated that “SANRAL’s e-tolls terms and conditions are 90% compliant with the Consumer Protection Act” and that “legislative amendments will be required to bring them in line with the Act”.

These statements were made on public television on SABC1 on the “Yilungelo Lakho/It's your right” current affairs programme of the public broadcaster. She also stated that the National Consumer Commission has received two complaints and four enquires with respect to e-tolling since its launch on 3 December 2013. 

Anything that is “90% compliant” is actually NON-COMPLIANT and therefore violates the provisions of the Act.  There is a pertinent saying in law which holds “let the buyer beware” and anyone who assents to terms and conditions that violate their rights under the Consumer Protection Act is looking to have their rights violated with their own consent.

For the National Consumer Commission to then state that “legislative amendments will be required to bring SANRAL’s terms and conditions in line with the Act” is an outright admission of collusion between the two State agencies and is furthermore an admission that the National Consumer Commission is not acting in the interests of consumers.

Since Ms Mlungu did not specify which 10% of the SANRAL e-tolling terms and conditions violate the Consumer Protection Act, it is not possible for JPSA to make comment on this beyond saying that both SANRAL and the Department of Trade and Industry’s National Consumer Commission have had more than sufficient time to make certain that SANRAL’s e-tolling terms and conditions comply with the Act, prior to the launch of e-tolling on 3 December 2013.

Furthermore, if the National Consumer Commission is clearly prepared to turn a blind eye to the violation of its own legislation and thereby fail in its supposed mandate of protecting consumer rights, it is hardly surprising that so few people have complained to them.

SANRAL CEO, Nazir Alli has become very fond of pointing his finger at the public and those who oppose e-tolling and accusing them of having “no respect for democracy and the rule of law”, yet he seems to be of the opinion that it is okay for his organisation to openly and flagrantly break the law.

Notwithstanding the apparent violation of the Consumer Protection Act, SANRAL has also recently taken it upon itself to reduce the terms of payment whereupon a 60% discount applies on invoices paid within 30 days to terms of 17 days and less.  The period of validity for discounts is legislated in the e-tolls tariff gazette of 19 November 2013.

Both, the National Consumer Commission and SANRAL have made an utter mockery of the laws of South Africa by their collusion and preparedness to violate the very laws they expect others to abide by.

Justice Project South Africa has recently been encouraging members of the public to lodge their complaints over e-tolling with the State controlled National Consumer Commission and we now see the “error of our ways”.  We simply cannot with good conscience continue to refer people to a colluding department like the National Consumer Commission.


JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, TRANSPORT & CRIME EDITORS
DATE: 2014/01/21
SUBJECT: INCIDENT AT SANRAL eTOLLS NERVE CENTRE

Justice Project South Africa was horrified to learn of the emergency evacuation of the SANRAL eTolls nerve centre on Tuesday Afternoon due to an “unidentified white powder” having been discovered in a bag.

The mere fact that a reported 20 employees had to be “decontaminated” and taken to hospital suggests that this incident was a great deal more than a simple prank and we trust that the South African Police Service will do everything in its power to bring the perpetrator/s to justice. We do not believe that SANRAL’s description of this heinous act as “bordering on a serious crime” was nearly strong enough.

Biological/Chemical attacks – real or feigned are an act of cowardice and terrorism and the perpetrator/s should be dealt with in the strongest possible fashion by the Courts when they are tracked down. Hoax or real, JPSA condemns this incident in the strongest possible terms and wishes all SANRAL employees affected by this incident well.

We were however somewhat surprised that this incident managed to bring SANRAL’s much boasted, “technological masterpiece” of e-tolling to a grinding halt, due to the power supply at their nerve centre having been shut down. According to news reports, Mr Vusi Mona was quoted as saying that “the e-toll system will be affected, since no one is able to man the system, as all staff have been evacuated”.

This suggests two things – namely that the e-tolls system we had been led to believe was highly automated and infallible is reliant on being manned and secondly, that SANRAL has no redundancy built into the e-tolling IT system infrastructure – by having more than one system in place.

Given the enormous cost of installing and implementing such a system, one would have thought that fundamental Corporate IT best practices would have been employed and that SANRAL and its tender winners would not have placed all of their eggs in one basket.

If this is indeed the case, which apparently it is, then Government should order an immediate investigation into the competence of both, those who drafted and awarded the tenders and those who simply forged ahead and installed such a technologically vulnerable system, for which the public is expected to pay both arms and both legs for.

JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO: ALL NEWS, TRANSPORT & CRIME EDITORS
DATE: 2014/01/16
SUBJECT: JPSA DEMANDS THE RESIGNATION/DISMISSAL OF SANRAL SPOKESPERSON

On the evening of Wednesday 15 January 2014, SANRAL spokesperson, Vusi Mona, responded to a question asked by a listener of Radio 702 and Cape Talk in a grossly disrespectful and arrogant fashion.

The listener had posed the question (paraphrased) “How do I as a road user know that I’m not being scammed because there’s a lot of people who will jump on the bandwagon and try to scam you? How do you guarantee that these SMSes are genuine and not scams?” in reference to the SMS messages being sent out demanding eTolls monies. 

His response was to say “Very easy. Raise your IQ a little bit…”

We have published this excerpt to:
https://soundcloud.com/howard-dembovsky/vusi-mona-tells-dianna-who

As a public servant and an employee of a State Owned Enterprise, Mr Mona has a duty to demonstrate respect for members of the public and he should know better than to openly and blatantly insult a member of the public who was simply asking a legitimate question of him.

At no time during the course of his interview with Gushwell Brooks did Mr Mona apologise for his utterances.  Instead, he tried to justify them by saying that people should “exercise common sense”.

We are reliably informed that this is not the first time that Mr Mona has alluded to “low IQs” when speaking to journalists about the "eTolls debate", however this is the first time that we have heard him state as much on public radio, first hand. 

Justice Project South Africa hereby calls upon Vusi Mona to do the honourable thing and resign immediately, failing which for the Minister of Transport to dismiss him since he clearly has no respect for the public he is supposed to serve – not hurl insults at.


JPSA MEDIA STATEMENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TO:

ALL NEWS AND TRANSPORT EDITORS

DATE:

THURSDAY 9 JANUARY 2014

SUBJECT:

FESTIVE SEASON ROAD CARNAGE

Justice Project South Africa wishes to express its sincere sympathies to all people affected by road crashes during the monitoring period of 1 December 2013 to 7 January 2014. 

We note that the PRELIMINARY road fatalities figure during this period was originally announced as being 1376, was later adjusted to 1357 but in the official media release from the department of transport, it’s back to 1376. Whatever it is, it’s way too high and is indicative of the serious problems South Africa faces on our roads, which can be likened to war zones.

We share the concerns expressed by Rob Handfield-Jones with respect to the credibility of these figures since an increase in 8 days of 192 fatalities represents an average daily rate of 24 fatalities per day, compared to the daily average of 39.4 per day up to 30 December 2013.  This is particularly concerning in light of the fact that several multi-fatality serious crashes took place after the 30 December previous report from the RTMC and the latest figures just don’t appear to be plausible.

We wish to make it very clear are NOT in any way accusing Minister Peters of “lying” since she can only report on figures that are presented to her. There are fundamental flaws in the methodologies used to collate such statistical information and these need to be urgently addressed.  We should also be very careful in announcing total “reductions” in road fatalities during the “festive season”, especially in light of the consistent shortening of the monitoring period that has typified reporting over the past few years.

Dangerous driving behaviour remains the prevalent killer on South Africa’s roads and yet the enforcement of moving violations remains a poorly – almost non-existent – implemented practice amongst traffic authorities.  Whilst the contingent of approximately 18,000 traffic officers countrywide cannot be deemed as nearly enough to police almost 10 million motorists, the way in which they are deployed and utilised needs urgent review.  Deploying them to roadblocks where moving violations don’t take place and into bushes to take photographs of speeding motorists is illogical – to put it mildly.

On the positive side, we are heartened that the Minister of Transport has prioritised the formation of a Road Safety Advisory Council going forward and hold high hopes for positive actions for the dramatic reduction of road carnage through positive interventions.  There is much work ahead and only consistent and ongoing interventions, based on reliable information and best practices will achieve the goals of curbing South Africa’s unacceptably high road carnage.


 

Previous media releases are available here.

This page was last updated on Friday 4 April, 2014