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Why must Gauteng pay e-tolls if Capetonians spared?

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Gauteng residents might very well ask why they have to pay e-tolls, while residents in the Western Cape have escaped the same fate, says Pieter Conradie of law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

“Given the latest judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal in the matter of the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) versus the City of Cape Town, Capetonians do not have to pay toll tariffs,” said Conradie.

In contrast, Gauteng residents have had to pay e-tolls since a 2013 judgment by the same court.

“There were two judgments in the same court, but with two different results. Why? In both cases, the applicants had to apply for condonation for the late filing of their applications. Yet the one, the City of Cape Town, was successful in its condonation application whereas the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) did not succeed. This is despite the finding, in both cases, that the delay in bringing the court cases was unreasonable,” explained Conradie.

The Supreme Court of Appeal considered the interest of justice requirement in both the City of Cape Town and Outa matters when it exercised its discretion as to whether it should grant condonation for the late filing of the applications. It found that it was in the interest of justice to condone the late application by the City of Cape Town, but previously found – in the Outa case – that it was not in the interest of justice to condone Outa’s late filing.

“Why? The circumstances of the Cape Town case were different to those in the Outa case. The road works have not commenced in Cape Town and the amount (already spent) of approximately R136m is relatively small in comparison to the huge costs of the entire Sanral project in Gauteng worth R22bn,” he explained.

In the Outa case the upgrades of the highways had already been completed and were due to be paid for by the time Outa had launched the application to review and interdict the implementation of the e-toll system.

“Without e-tolling, Sanral’s R22bn debt, along with interest which was ‘running at an alarming rate’, would remain unpaid. The Supreme Court of Appeal found that the five-year delay in bringing the review application was unreasonable and that it was contrary to public interest to attempt to ‘undo history’,” said Conradie.

“If Sanral starts the process afresh by implementing e-tolling in Cape Town and getting it right the second time, Gauteng residents may find some (cold) comfort in the fact that Capetonians may eventually also have to ‘cough up.”

[Source: News24]
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