We recently reported on the Department of Transport’s daft decision to transfer R5.7 billion from its medium-term budget to Sanral, in order to cover the rising debt incurred due to the non-payment of e-tolls.
We could smell this fiasco coming a mile away.
In November of 2018, we also released an article covering the potential impact of e-toll non-payment, and one of the downsides we listed was that Sanral would soon run out of money – having already taken R1.6 billion out of its road maintenance budget to cover e-toll shortfalls.
The public was rightfully disgusted; and the sentiment was clear: If we don’t pay our e-toll fees, the roads, the taxes and the Treasury will pay them for us.
The e-tolls have been doomed to fail from the start, but it has become glaringly evident that the government will refuse to admit its mistake, and continue to funnel money into the disastrous project – instead of putting it to better use.
Now, the ETC (Electronic Toll Collection Company – charged with the collection of e-toll fees in South Africa) has reportedly said that e-toll users face being blacklisted if they fail to respond to demand letters and summonses to court over unpaid e-toll bills.
Sanral is expected to use this method to intimidate motorists into paying up the billions of rands currently owed in e-toll fees.
Could you really get blacklisted for refusing to pay the e-tolls? Let’s take a look.
According to a report by IOL, one unfortunate Gauteng motorist recently applied for credit facilities, only to discover that he had been blacklisted for owing R60 000 in e-toll fees.
EWN has reported that the ETC issues between 2000 and 4000 summonses per month, and has also applied for 1400 default judgments (that arise when a debtor does not respond to or defend a summons) against motorists, which, if granted, could lead to them being automatically blacklisted.
Former e-toll protestor and now the-man-in-charge of the ETC, Coenie Vermaak, reportedly told EWN that these motorists would have received sufficient notice to settle their e-toll bills, first via SMS, then a letter of demand, and if ignored, followed by a summons. After this, the ETC applies to the court for default judgment.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much a person can do once a default judgment has been granted against them.
Civil society group, Outa (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse), has warned South African motorists who ignore their e-toll bills that they could indeed face severe consequences. Credit ratings could suffer, therefore making it almost impossible to obtain credit facilities, sign a lease, etc.
Outa’s Transport Portfolio Manager, Rudie Heyneke, said that in the organisation’s opinion, Sanral is waging a dangerous war against the citizens of South Africa, adding:
Heyneke said that these default judgments were especially problematic when obtained against motorists for vehicles that did not belong to them, and who have had their registration plates cloned – a growing problem in Gauteng.
Therefore, it’s important not to ignore these summonses, and fast action will need to be taken. It’s also noteworthy that the state is under no obligation to inform motorists once a default judgment has been made, and may only find out – like the aforementioned unfortunate Gauteng motorist – when they apply for credit or a loan.
In response to these claims, the Credit Bureau Association has said that the aforementioned blacklisting of the Gauteng motorist was likely an error.
According to the CBA, the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act, 2013, which amended the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act, 1998, specifically excludes the levying and collecting of e-tolls from the provisions of the National Credit Act, 2005.
The group (representing Compuscan, Consumer Profile Bureau, Experion, TransUnion, Vericred and Xpert Decision Systems) added that it would like to inform consumers that all information relating to e-tolls and Sanral will not be held on the credit bureaus, and that any such information that has inadvertently been loaded onto profiles will be removed.
It is clear that Sanral and the ETC are going after motorists with everything they can. Perhaps, even, deceitful scare tactics to intimidate Gauteng motorists into paying for the foundering e-toll scheme which nobody wanted, nobody agreed on, and is plainly designed to further fatten the pockets of the government.
If you are aware that any information related to the e-toll fiasco, or Sanral, has been loaded onto your consumer profile, don’t panic, and contact one of the credit bureaus to lodge an immediate dispute.
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