STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: TRANSPORT FOR CAPE TOWN, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON
The City of Cape Town is astonished by SANRAL’s irrational decision to appeal against the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal in the Winelands tolling matter. Wasting taxpayers’ money on another round of litigation in the Constitutional Court is highly irresponsible, given the lack of funding for higher education, tighter austerity measures imposed by Treasury, and slow domestic growth. Read more below:
As of 20 September this year – after four and a half years of legal battles against the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) – the City’s legal costs in the Winelands tolling matter stood at R20 653 756.
This amount does not include SANRAL’s legal costs, neither those of other National Government departments involved in prior litigation.We have called on SANRAL to refrain from wasting taxpayers’ money on further legal action after a full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein unanimously ruled in our favour on 22 September 2016.
We asked SANRAL at the time to finally concede that they followed an improper and unlawful process which, if it was left unopposed, would have resulted in Western Cape road users paying R62 billion in toll fees over a period of 30 years.
Remarkably, we were informed earlier today that SANRAL has filed an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
This is an irrational decision. Even more so when one considers that the City has won every round in court since we launched our review application on 28 March 2012 to set aside the approvals that enabled SANRAL to toll sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town.
In his judgment, Judge Navsa from the SCA rightly stated that ‘the tolling of national roads has become a burning issue in public and political debate’.
Even though it is within the National Government’s mandate to determine how road infrastructure should be funded, the SCA found that this does not make an organ of state ‘immune from judicial review’ and that ‘the exercise of all public power is subject to constitutional control’.
Political decision-makers and public entities such as SANRAL are thus still obliged to follow due process and to act within the law.
As such, the full bench of the SCA upheld the judgment in the Winelands tolling matter that was handed down by Justices Ashley Binns-Ward and Nolwazi Boqwana of the Western Cape High Court on 30 September 2015.
The SCA declared the 2014 decision of the SANRAL Board to declare certain sections of the N1 and N2 as toll roads to be invalid and it was reviewed and set aside. In addition, the SCA dismissed SANRAL’s appeal with costs.
We brought this review application in 2012 in the interest of the residents of Cape Town, and in particular the poor, who would have been the worst affected if SANRAL’s decisions were to stand.
Given the scale of this litigation and SANRAL’s stubbornness – which has been clearly demonstrated again today – no individual or group of residents could realistically have brought this legal challenge.
SANRAL should rather work with the City to find a solution for the infrastructural upgrades that may be required for the N1 and N2 freeways, than wasting money on litigating in the Constitutional Court.