SANRAL and its lawyers must let everyone know where they really stand on e-tolls

JOHANNESBURG – Following the concerns raised by the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) this morning regarding the public spat between OUTA and SANRAL concerning civil legal action on unpaid e-tolls bills, Justice Project South Africa wishes support the AA’s calls and to add its concerns to the mix.

It is remarkable that despite having been specifically named by OUTA, Werksmans Attorneys have remained silent on this issue, even though this law firm is the only party which can settle this dispute between SANRAL and OUTA and in so doing, provide much-needed clarity to the motoring public.

If it is true that Werksmans Attorneys have reached an agreement with OUTA to “stay legal action against all current and future members of OUTA pending the outcome of a test case”, then the details of this agreement must officially and urgently be made public.

If SANRAL asserts, as it apparently does, that no such agreement is in place, then all it needs to do is have its legal representatives be a party to a joint media statement with SANRAL refuting OUTA’s claims and that will be the end of the story.

If however OUTA’s claims turn out to be true then SANRAL would need to explain why it is misleading the public and its legal representatives would need to explain why they are seemingly seeking to favour OUTA members in violation of Section 9(1) of the Bill of Rights under the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 which holds that “Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law”.

Furthermore, if such an agreement is in place, then it stands to reason that no Court in South Africa would risk making a pre-emptive ruling whilst the outcome of a test case is pending and in so doing, violating the constitutional rights of those who are not members of OUTA. 

JPSA therefore calls upon SANRAL and Werksmans Attorneys urgently issue a joint statement providing definitive clarity on this matter.

AARTO Amendment Bill – Call for public submissions

JOHANNESBURG – Justice Project South Africa has recently become aware of the fact that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport is calling for submissions from members of the public and other interested stakeholders regarding the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill, 2015 which was originally published for public comment on 20 February 2013 and subsequently on 28 June 2013.

The closing date for submissions thereon was 28 July 2013 and since then, no further calls for public comment have been published in any government gazette.

On 12 November 2015, a notification of the intention to introduce the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 into Parliament was published by the Minister of Transport in government gazette 39395 and then, on 30 November 2015, the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 itself was published.

This Bill must not be confused with the publications for public comment on draft amendments to the AARTO Regulations which have also been published from time to time, including but not limited to those draft amendments which contemplate e-tolls.

In light of the fact that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport is now calling for submissions and has stated that it has extended its deadline therefor to 31 August 2016, JPSA will of course be submitting a comprehensive submission thereon since it has been one of the front-running stakeholders involved in submissions on the AARTO Act and its Regulations, as well as all other road traffic legislation from the onset of the promulgation of the AARTO Act in the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Our submission will primarily be made on behalf of our members but it is unavoidable that it will also largely represent the interests of the wider motoring public at large since we cannot imagine that many other motorists would have dramatically materially different interests to our members. We have also earlier made an application to address the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport on this Bill and are awaiting their reply.

Once we have completed our submission, it will be sent to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and it will also be published online at our website in the interests of the total transparency JPSA holds dear. We envisage that this will take place at some time close to the closing date of 31 August, due to the fact that JPSA never shoots from the hip and wishes to make its submission as comprehensive as possible.

JPSA also wishes to encourage members of the public to download the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015, contemplate its contents and make their own submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport.

The Bill can be downloaded from the SA Government website here and written submissions sent to Ms Valerie Carelse on vcarelse@parliament.gov.za or 021 403 3272.

Of heads and tails – Department of Transport causes confusion over draft number plates amendments

JOHANNESBURG – Since stories of the introduction of a new number plate format applicable to the entire country first started doing the rounds last week, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has consistently maintained that the proposed amendments contained in Government Gazette 38430 of 28 January 2015 have not been promulgated yet and therefore, people should avoid “getting their nickers in a knot” about them.

However, JPSA was alarmed to see the comments of the official Transport Department spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi in an IOL report stating that: “the document that has been doing the rounds is not authentic and neither has the department made a determination to the effect reflected therein.” He also allegedly said “We condemn the fabricated document with the contempt it deserves and urge all South Africans to ignore it while we investigate its source”.

The alleged non-authentic “fabricated document” referred to is Government Gazette 38430 of 28 January 2015, the download link to which provided by MyBroadband directs users directly to the SA Government website where Government Gazettes may be downloaded by anyone interested in the contents of such gazettes and is regularly used by JPSA and all manner of other people and entities to do so.

Later today however (at 12:39), the Department of Transport appeared to have completed its investigation and put out a media release dealing with the draft amendments to number plate regulations contained in that Government Gazette. Therein, it now acknowledges the fact that it has indeed planned amendments to number plate regulations, further saying: “At the end of the Departmental consultation process, the matter will be presented to Cabinet”.

According to the SA Government website at www.gov.za, this “consultation process” came to an end on 28 February 2015.

JPSA is very concerned about the fact that it is quite clear that the head does not appear to know what the tail is doing at the Department of Transport. Mr Mnisi’s allegations of fraud, fabrication and rumour-mongering were quite clearly false and the Department of Transport has not so much as had the common decency to apologise for his actions.

While it has become a popular tactic if the Department of Transport and its various State Owned entities to accuse others of “misleading the public”, based upon little more than their own disdain for anyone outside of government, this behaviour is no less distasteful.

We therefore call upon the Minister of Transport to do the responsible thing and issue a formal apology to those who have been insulted and had their integrity slandered by spokespeople for the Department of Transport and others.