Although there few things that could surprise JPSA when it comes to e-tolling, news that SANRAL and the National Department of Transport is reportedly make submissions to the Gauteng e-tolls review panel “next month, ahead of the panel wrapping up its work, to ‘correct the distortions’ about the system which were now in the public domain” is a new low, even for them.
SANRAL was invited to make its submissions to the panel a long time ago and instead of seizing the opportunity, they, the National Department of Transport and Minister Peters decided to actively try to discredit the panel, labelling it as little more than a farce and refusing to participate. Minister Peters even went so far as to say that she “has no duty to implement the findings of the panel” but now it would appear that she and her cohorts wish to manipulate those findings at a crucial time in the process – after representations and submissions have closed.
It must not be forgotten that the schedule of the Gauteng e-tolls review panel has been and continues to be tight. It is due to present its report to Premier Makhura by no later than 30 November 2014 and as things stand it has a significant quantum of submissions to consider. For SANRAL, the National Department of Transport and Minister Peters to now announce that they will address the panel during the time that it is supposed to be sifting through those submissions and the evidence placed before it and compiling its report is highly irregular at best.
This action can be likened to a respondent in a court application failing to oppose such an application and then subsequently deciding to approach the Judge after the application has been heard and a Judge has reserved judgment, in an attempt to sway his or her judgment because that respondent now feels that an adverse finding may be reached against it.
No-one is trying to or has tried to deny SANRAL the National Department of Transport and Minister Peters their right to be heard, quite the opposite in fact. All we are saying is that there was a time and place for this to be done and all of them decided to be vindictive and dictatorial instead of seizing the moment and showing South Africans that they are reasonable people with a reasonable argument to present. They have absolutely no right to seek to interfere with the process significantly after submissions have closed and this must be viewed in a very dim light and should not be allowed.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)