Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

SMSes from the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) possibly transgressed "section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act"‚ the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said on Friday.

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage said that "this week‚ Sanral launched a new tactic of intimidation by sending SMS messages to motorists with outstanding e-toll bills".

These‚ he said‚ "were split into three parts":

• "Listing user’s current outstanding e-toll balance";

• "An indication of the discount they will receive if they settle now" – currently 60%; and

• "A message of intimidation which says: ‘Failure to settle outstanding e-toll will result in a loss of this discount‚ vehicle listing‚ and collection action being commenced against you for the full amount due.’"

Mr Duvenage said "three different staff members" at Sanral could give "no clear indication" what "what exactly ‘vehicle listing’ and ‘collection action’ means".

"This is clearly an intimidation tactic but what’s more‚ the fact that Sanral (is) sending questionable, unsolicited messages to people‚ without an ‘opt-out’ option from receiving further intimidation messages‚ could be deemed unlawful‚" he said.

"There is no qualification within these messages that this debt belongs to a specific person or vehicle registration number."

He said "Outa’s legal team is investigating the possibility that Sanral or (its) agents might be transgressing section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act by sending unsolicited communications to persons without giving them the option to opt out or being able to confirm where they obtained their personal details".

"As per the act‚ ‘communicating with persons in this manner could be a criminal offence with a fine or prison sentence of up to 12 months’."

TMG Digital