Pretoria protesters gather to march against e-tolls

30 November 2012 - 13:03 By Sapa
Toll gantry on the N17, Germiston. File photo.
Toll gantry on the N17, Germiston. File photo.
Image: Simon Mathebula

A few dozen people gathered on a vacant piece of land at a street corner, where taxis usually park, ahead of a planned march in Pretoria against e-tolling.

Residents voiced their opposition to by singing, dancing, and blowing vuvuzelas ahead of the march.

By 9.30am, people were seen milling around while others set up equipment at the corner of Sophie de Bruyn and Johannes Ramokhoase streets.

Police kept a close eye from their vehicles parked nearby.

Around 9:40am people began chanting: "An injury to one is an injury to all".

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Thabatswae secretary Aggrey Mathe said: "It is the question of e-tolling. We are against that. We are pressuring the government."

Another man with a poster, Marchand Conradie, said living in a democracy meant having choices.

"If we live in a democracy we should have the opportunity to say if things can go ahead or not."

His poster read: "No open road toll".

Other posters read: "Scrap tolling for better public transport systems", "tolling = double taxation" and "Kill tolling, not the consumer".

The group will march to the transport and finance departments to hand over memorandums against e-tolling, City of Tshwane spokesman Console Tleane said.

The Opposition for Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) called on all participants in the protest marches to refrain from violence and damage to property.

The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday reserved judgment on the future of the e-tolling system, following a challenge by Outa.

Like Outa, the Congress of SA Trade Unions wants e-tolls scrapped, saying workers cannot afford it and government must prioritise efficient, affordable public transport.

Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi called on other provinces to join the opposition to Gauteng's tolls.

Spokesman Norman Mampane, who was with workers gathering in Johannesburg for a march there, said: "If the government can destroy houses in Lenasia, it can demolish the gantries.

"On this day, within South Africa, no roads should be privatised."

He said the wealthy would still use the highways, but the poor would be forced to use side routes, which were poorly maintained and would become congested.

Cosatu was not opposed to freeway improvement, but not "at the expense of the little people".

Also at the Johannesburg march, activist and member of leftist group Keep Left, Claire Ceruti, said it seemed government was committed to relying on road transport, which was harmful to the environment, rather than rail or mass transit, and also without having an alternative in place.

Judgment was reserved at the High Court in Pretoria this week in a court challenge to the introduction of the tolls in Gauteng.