E-tolls review panel debate gets heated

An economist was reprimanded after saying those not paying for e-tolls should “shut-up”.

E-tolls went live on Tuesday at midnight without any incidents being reported. Picture: EWN

PRETORIA - A heated exchange of words unfolded at the e-tolls assessment panel when a panelist told an economist who made submissions on behalf of Sanral to change his tone of voice.

Transport economist Roelof Botha told the panel sitting in Pretoria that South Africans who use public transport, and don't pay income tax or their e-toll bills, have no right to complain about the system.

The panel has 11 days until it has to make recommendations to Gauteng Premier David Makhura after looking at the socio economic impact on motorists.

Botha says the e-tolls system is working in theory and in practice.

"So if you are in the bottom income quota and using public transport then you should not actually participate in the debate. You should actually shut-up and not participate."

Lawyer John Ngcebetsha who sits on the e-tolls panel then intervened.

"It's not necessary to take that tone, it's absolutely unnecessary..."

Botha then cut him short mid-sentence.

"Is that a competitive tone for you. What I'm trying to say is if someone is not paying income tax then that person has no right to complain about it and run to the media."