E-tolls protest goes awry

Johannesburg - An anti-e-toll campaign by Proudly e-toll Free on Beyers Naude drive on the N1 in Johannesburg was interrupted on Friday when protesters and SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) employees came into conflict.

The demonstration was organised by Proudly e-toll Free, as part of a three-week anti-e-toll campaign.

A Fin24 user at the scene said protesters gathered outside the Sanral customer service centre to have a photograph taken while standing at a banner.

According to Jason Fivaz of Proudly e-tag Free, there were fewer than 16 protesters. He said that when they moved closer to the Sanral kiosk, they were pushed around.

"A group of Sanral employees stormed out of the building and started grabbing the banner. They tried to rip signs away from protesters. They were pushed around and shouted at that they are 'not allowed to do that' outside Sanral's premises," said the Justice Project of South Africa (JPSA).

“Demonstrators were pushed around and women were manhandled.”

Watch the clip:

According to JPSA, two of the women who were manhandled have laid charges of assault against the Sanral employees concerned.

The Electronic Tolling Collection (ETC), which is contracted by Sanral to operate e-tolls, told Fin24 that it is aware of the incident and that an investigation into the matter is under way.

Rob Hutchinson from Proudly e-tag Free said the protest was legal as it complied with section 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. “Small groups of persons do not have to apply for permission to exercise their constitutional right to picket,” said JPSA.  

JPSA also said Sanral customer service centres are not national key points, and therefore it is not against the law for people to take photographs outside offices.  

Hutchinson said the campaign involved flying banners from several bridges crossing over e-tolled roads in Gauteng daily, during peak hours in the mornings and evening.  

Some of the messages on banners includ “Hoot if against e-tolls”, “Over 1 million tag free, stay strong”, “Proudly e-tag Free” and “No e-tolls GP”.

The organisation is made up of many members from the public and other organisations like Bikers Against Tolls, Cars Against Tolls, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance and JPSA.  

Hutchinson said Proudly e-tag Free wants to see the end of e-tolling. “This can only be achieved by mass defiance of the e-toll system.”

He said the organisation believes the system was forced onto motorists in an unjust way.

“We believe more than enough funds are collected by the fuel levy each year for road infrastructure - R238bn in six years,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said his organisation has called for a forensic audit of the fuel levy as they believe there is more than enough collected which has gone to other projects.

These pictures of the protest were supplied by the Fin24 user and JPSA:

 - Fin24

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyFin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

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