E-tolls may proceed
The constitutional court has set aside an interim order barring Sanral from implementing e-tolls. This means the controversial project can proceed ahead of a review by the courts.
In a judgment handed down on Thursday, the constitutional court set aside an interim order that put on hold a plan to toll highways in Gauteng. “The interim order granted by the high court on 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 28 April, 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 roads agency Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a judicial review.
Sanral and national treasury appealed against the court order.
Sanral argued that delays in the project, due to the court’s order, prevented it from paying off debts incurred in building gantries.
A massive public outcry about the tolls was supported by trade union federation Cosatu, which said toll fees on a heavily-used commuter route would financially cripple the public.
Reading the unanimous judgment, Moseneke said the separation of powers was vital to SA’s constitutional democracy.
Courts should refrain from doing this unless they did so in a constitutional way and in exceptional circumstances.
The national executive was responsible for public resources and, “absent of fraud or corruption”, had the power and prerogative to implement and finance projects, with the approval of parliament.
“Courts are not always well-suited to make decisions of that order,” said Moseneke.
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.” — Sapa