JOHANNESBURG - Judge Bill Prinsloo granted an interdict against the implementation of the Gauteng e-tolling system on Saturday.
The matter was brought to the North Gauteng High Court by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa).
The court spent three days hearing arguments into whether the project should be interdicted and then reviewed.
Despite a last minute postponement of the launch, the court placed the entire project on ice until a full review can be heard into its viability.
The project was postponed to May 31, to research alternative funding options to pay off the debt incurred for road improvements.
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the National Treasury previously argued that delaying the project will have a negative impact on the economy.
However, Outa has said the project is irrational and has already been postponed several times.
In a ruling that lasted for over an hour, Prinsloo carefully went over all the grounds that need to be proved before an urgent interdict is granted.
He ruled that motorists had no choice except to use the tolled freeways, because of a lack of alternative public transport.
“Although efforts have been made recently, to improve public transport infrastructure, public transport remains hopelessly inadequate as a viable alternative option to a very high proportion of residential and business road users in Gauteng.”
Prinsloo said while it was difficult to gage what prejudice would be suffered by regular road users should the system start, it will be significant.
The judge reiterated that public interest and protest played an important part in the case.
Shortly after judgment, Outa held a media briefing in Pretoria.
Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage, who shed tears of joy during the ruling, said Saturday’s outcome marked the beginning of a lengthy battle.
He said it was however a big victory for South African motorists, and their case against the implementation of the e-tolling system.
Duvenage added that a message has been sent to government that it exists to serve the people, and that the courts are there to protect the rights of those people.
The alliance will now request all the documents that detail exactly on what basis a decision to implement e-tolling was made.
The controversial e-tolling system, if implemented, will affect a 185km stretch of the N1, N3, N12 and R21 between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
REACTION TO THE INTERDICT AGAINST E-TOLLING
The Department of Transport on Saturday said it was still studying the judgement and would announce its next move soon.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it would continue to engage with the African National Congress (ANC), to find a feasible solution.
Cosatu Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi said there is political will from the party, to address public outcry over tolling.
And the Democratic Alliance’s member of provincial legislature, Neil Campbell, said the ruling is a step towards having the system scrapped in its entirety.
He further commended Prinsloo on his “well thought-out judgement”.