Peak hour traffic on the M1 North. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Peak hour traffic on the M1 North. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

In what could signal an end to a long and complicated battle over the country’s National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS)‚ the Constitutional Court made a ruling in favour of the transport department on Tuesday.

The effect of Tuesday’s judgment is that‚ essentially‚ the department of transport is not required to pay the R33m claimed by Tasima for services related to eNaTIS‚ that the company claimed to have provided to the department after June 23 2015.

This is the date on which the High Court in Pretoria declared the contract between Tasima and the department for the provision of eNaTIS was invalid.

The judgment also means that Tasima’s bid to hold on to eNaTIS has been dismissed — for good.

eNaTIS is the official register for vehicles‚ driving licences‚ [traffic] contraventions and accident data in SA.

The Constitutional Court‚ in a ruling handed down in November 2016‚ ordered Tasima to hand over the services and eNaTIS to the department of transport’s Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) within 30 days.

Although the contract was supposed to be terminated in 2017‚ a number of extensions were granted until the department obtained a court order in 2015‚ setting aside the purported extensions of the contract. This was confirmed by the Constitutional Court in November 2016.

Tasima had‚ in the meantime‚ obtained two High Court orders to be paid for work it had done for the department between 2015 and 2016. This resulted in the department bringing an appeal against the judgment‚ by Judge Sulet Potterill‚ to the Constitutional Court. Potterill had ruled that the department and the RTMC should pay Tasima millions.

Tasima also appealed against a High Court order obtained by the department in 2017‚ which evicted the company from the eNaTIS premises and compelled it to hand over the system to the RTMC.

In a judgment dealing with both appeals‚ Constitutional Court acting Judge Xola Petse upheld the department’s appeal and dismissed Tasima’s appeal. Petse said the orders obtained by Tasima had legal force and effect from the time they were granted and for as long as the declaration of invalidity by the High Court — from June 23 2015 — had not been made.

"Although the declaration of invalidity made by the High Court was confirmed by this Court in Tasima on November 9 2016‚ this confirmation‚ as indicated earlier‚ had retrospective effect from June 23 2015."

Petse dismissed Tasima’s appeal and said hearing the appeal on eviction would be an academic exercise as the relief sought by Tasima would have no practical effect. He also said Tasima took no issue with the fact that eNaTIS was now firmly under the control of the RTMC.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the judgment meant Tasima’s bid to hold on to the system by fighting eviction from the premises where the system was housed had finally been dealt with.

"Tasima can no longer be the holder [of] the eNaTIS system as it had tried to [be] by fighting eviction from the premises where the system was held," Zwane said. "The judgment affirms the Constitutional Court order of 2016 that the system should belong to the RTMC."

The system is housed and managed by RTMC on behalf of the department of transport.