E-toll ruling set aside, meaning Sanral can begin tolling Gautengers

The Constitutional Court have set aside an interim order preventing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project from being implemented.

“The interim order granted by the high court of 28 April, 2012, is set aside,” said Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

This was because the high court had not considered the separation of powers between the court and the executive.

The High Court in Pretoria granted the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) an interdict on April 28, ruling that a full review needed to be carried out before electronic tolling of Gauteng’s highways could be put into effect.

The interdict prevented the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of the review.

Sanral and National Treasury appealed the court order, and said delays prevented the payment of debts incurred building gantries.

Reading the unanimous judgment, Moseneke said the separation of powers was vital to South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

Government has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the appeal of the order made by the North Gauteng High Court on the implementation of the e-toll system on the Gauteng highways.

George Mahlalela, Director-General in the Department of Transport, said the ruling reaffirmed government’s conviction that the North Pretoria High Court had erred in its judgement which interferes with policy making, a responsibility of the Executive.

He said government respected the right of any member of the public to approach the courts to review its decisions and operations within the country’s legal framework.

“Government remains convinced about the appropriateness of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, with the user-pay principle, as part of our country’s investment in road infrastructure and our collective drive to grow the economy,” he said.

“The development of a country’s road infrastructure plays a critical role in building its economy and sustaining its growth by facilitating the movement of goods and services across the country.”

Mahlalela said government would study the judgment and make an announcement on the way forward soon.

Outa leader Wayne Duvenage said after the judgment: “They can’t start e-tolls tomorrow. Sanral would have to put plans in place and still deal with some outstanding issues.”