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Catholics denounce... e-tolling

2013-05-21 13:31

HOLY POWER: The Catholilc Bishops' Conference in Johannesburg has come out against the morality of e-tolling. Image: Wheels24

Ahmed Areff

JOHANNESBURG - Anti-road tolls organisation Outa* has applauded the Catholic Church's support for its stance against the e-tolling of Gauteng highways.

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said: "We are extremely pleased that an entity of such stature and magnitude as the Catholic Church has come out to defend the country's citizens against a questionable decision and action by the state.

"This denouncement was clearly conducted after significant research and an introspective assessment of the pros and cons of e-tolling."

MORAL COURAGE


Duvenage said the church could have sat back and watched from the sidelines "as so many organisations do", but instead delved into the matter.

"It was ultimately the moral courage of various religious groups and other entities in the past that became the catalyst [for] apartheid's irrational 'house of cards' to come crashing down.”

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference's justice and peace department said on Monday (May 20) it supported Outa against e-tolling, to be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in September.

"We... call for the immediate suspension of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project e-tolling project and a full-access review of it in an appropriate forum. We appeal for a re-think regarding alternative methods of funding it."

The SACBC said it felt compelled to highlight the key moral issues underpinning e-tolling.

"Government has a mandate to govern, by virtue of having won an election. Does this mean that they are unaccountable until the next election?" it asked. "Clearly not. Transparent public consultations on controversial issues are bound to be held and taken into account. We fear that this has not been adequately done in this case."

*Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance

Wheels24 says: Moral and other outrage about the fraud that is e-tolling we certainly support - the corruption behind it is as apparent as the Southern Cross - but is this a place where the Church belongs. And if so, why has the Catholic Bishop's Conference taken so long to "stand up" and be counted? A moral holy outcry against slavery, child prostitution, racism, abortion and other human failings, sure, but what next? Guptagate? High taxes? The gold price?

What do YOU think about the Church parking on the side of Outa? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts or use the Readers' Comments section below...
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