One major flaw in Gauteng’s new licence plate plan

 ·21 May 2024

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) believes Gauteng’s new “high tech” number plates will be costly, driving motorists and mainly businesses to register their plates elsewhere, which could significantly impact Gauteng’s revenue.

In February 2024, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced that with the introduction of upgraded license plates, every Gauteng resident renewing their car license disc would also need to apply for a new number plate.

This comes over concerns that Gauteng’s licence plates are easy to clone and fake plates are heavily used by criminals.

“Every crime, especially violent crime, in our province, whether it is a cash heist, kidnapping [or] murder, a car is involved, and our licensing regime was very bad, so we will launch new number plates in Gauteng,” said Lesufi.

Another reason for the change in licence plates is that the province’s registration plates for cars are running out of numeric and alphabetic combinations, and the province is using this as an opportunity to overhaul the system, said Lesufi.

However, the new license plates raise several questions that remain unanswered. It is unclear whether the new plates will be more expensive than the current ones and if there will be new methods for purchasing and installing them.

Speaking to MyBroadband, Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage has expressed concerns, stating that the new vehicle license plate scheme may introduce new controls at a cost.

He said this could lead to the scheme causing big fleet operations to license their vehicles in other provinces of the country.

Getting a new number plate in Gauteng costs approximately R200, depending on the supplier.

This means that any fleet needing to re-register tens or hundreds of vehicles will face a significant price increase, potentially prompting them to explore other options.

Although South Africa’s road laws require motorists to register their vehicles in the province where they reside, this rule seems to be rarely enforced.

Currently, the National Traffic Information System (Natis) only prevents individuals from registering cars with number plates from more than one province under the same name.

The new Gauteng license plates were initially scheduled to launch in April but missed their deadline.

The government has not explained the delay, leaving more questions than answers.

After announcing that the plates would be available to all motorists in the Gauteng province last month, Premier Lesufi reversed his decision and stated that they would first be introduced to government vehicles during a pilot period beginning in April 2024 and then to private vehicles.

According to Duvenage, the contradictory statements indicate a flawed system that is not ready to be presented to the public.

“Why launch only with government vehicles when the system is supposed to be ready for all cars?” said Duvenage.

Additionally, Outa argues that while improved security features would be helpful if the rule of law were properly enforced, there is no indication that they will truly assist in reducing the spread of fraudulent and cloned plates, as the authorities promised.

“No matter the technology applied, if you are not prioritising law enforcement and prevention, criminals will still get away with crime,” said Outa’s executive director for accountability, Stefanie Fick.

“Catching criminals and holding them accountable should be a priority, along with new technology. Having new tech is useless if you can’t enforce the law.”

Duvenage warned that the province’s actions might have unintended consequences, potentially leading large fleet operations to choose to register their vehicles at offices located in other provinces across the country.

With over 4.6 million drivers in the province, the provincial government will collect over R938 million before any other fee adjustments—meaning the departure of large fleet operations could significantly impact the province’s revenue.

Read: Police ramping up in ‘high risk’ areas ahead of election

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter