As the saying goes, the best defence is a good offence. Well, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) seems to have quite firmly embraced this adage, as it fired its latest volley at ITWeb last week.

The agency has hardly been the epitome of honesty, transparency or good service delivery since the implementation of on Gauteng’s highways, rather choosing to go the route of intimidation, lying and hurling insults as it tries to coerce motorists into playing the e-toll game.

However, its latest salvo – directed at a publication that has always attempted to give a fair chance to respond – is nothing short of laughable and must surely be a sign that the agency is getting desperate.

ITWeb had earlier submitted two queries to , asking it to confirm its e-tag sales numbers, as different figures have been quoted by transport minister " rel=tag>Dipuo Peters in Parliament, as well as to comment on e-mail communication with a road user, in which it assures the motorist that no breaches had ever taken place on its Web site.

These queries, for some reason, elicited the following response, issued on behalf of spokesperson : “In light of your publication admitting to hacking into our system, will no longer cooperate with ITWeb as you are dealing with us in bad faith. We reserve our rights to comment on any queries from you.”

I can categorically state that we neither hacked, nor admitted to hacking into ’s system. ITWeb, in the course of routine investigation into the previous breaches, did take steps to confi rm that the Web site flaws existed and were vulnerable. We subsequently ensured that , and any users involved, were appropriately notified.

So while Mona’s levels of paranoia are seemingly hitting all-time highs, his talent for skilful lying appear to need a bit more work. You see, Vusi, while you have told an e-toll “client” – I use the term loosely – that your systems have never been breached (yes, copies of this and other correspondence are in our possession), you have also accused ITWeb of hacking into your system. I can only assume that one of these statements is, therefore, false. But then again, perhaps I should just increase my IQ…

I can only assume that is still reeling from the embarrassment of being bust quoting over-inflated e-tag sales figures (thanks to different numbers given by the transport minister in Parliament). A bit hard to talk your way out of that one, isn’t it?

Perhaps this is why the agency is choosing to slam the door on those publications that are asking inconvenient questions. Or perhaps it has really just given up trying to spin as a positive.

Whatever it is, I think there is little left in the way of a moral argument to buy an e-tag.

Martin Czernowalow