Retired couple helps Outa fight 'downright robbery'

31 January 2013 - 02:01 By SIPHO MASOMBUKA
An e-toll gantry on the N1 highway in Johannesburg.
An e-toll gantry on the N1 highway in Johannesburg.

The last time Naureen and Desmond Cole were on a Johannesburg freeway was three months ago when they went to Harrismith in the Free State on holiday.

The elderly pair are among thousands of ordinary citizens contributing towards costly legal bills to fight the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system.

The legal costs for three previous court battles waged by Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance were more than R10-million.

As of last week, the alliance had raised just over R8-million from ordinary citizens like the Coles and businesses, but it needs about R1.5-million for the coming Supreme Court of Appeal showdown.

The Pretoria High Court, which foiled the alliance 's initial attempt to stop the e-tolling system, last week granted it permission to seek relief in the appeals court in Bloemfontein.

In June last year, Cole, a Johannesburg-based retired pharmacist and her 90-year-old husband, a retired Wits University African languages professor, donated R200 to Outa's "worthy cause".

Yesterday, they pledged another R500 to the fight against "disgraceful and downright robbery".

Speaking from their apartment in a retirement village, Cole - who turns 78 next week - encouraged more people to contribute.

"Everything that is transported on these freeways will be horribly expensive and everybody will be affected. [The SA National Roads Agency] is adamant it gave enough notice, but who reads the Government Gazette? The last time I read a Gazette was when I was a child," she said.

The alliance contends that the roads agency 's public notice was procedurally unfair: i t was published in a Government Gazette and out of reach for many people and it wa s the public that would be adversely affected to the tune of R70-billion.

Alliance chairman Wayne Duvenage said 3603 individuals had contributed to its coffers to raise R1.56-million, an average of R432 each in the past nine months.

He said 232 businesses had contributed R6.64-million, an average of R28900 each, but the alliance was R3.6-million short of its R11.8-million target.

Contributions increased sharply this month as the public realised the alliance was pressing on with its appeal, Duvenage said.

"People are now behind us more than ever, but we are still behind in the funds we need."

Duvenage said he was particularly touched by people who could not afford to donate, but who still threw in the little they had.

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