E-tolls blamed for the rise in cloned plates

The South African Number Plates Association (Sana) says that the implementation of e-tolls on Gauteng’s freeways is leading to a rise in the number of cloned number plates.

Spokesperson for Johannesburg Metro Police, chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar told BusinessTech that the city has experienced an increase in cloned plates recently.

“What we have experienced is a notable increase in cloned number plates over the past few weeks in the Joburg area,” he said.

Sana CEO Zurika Louw believes that e-tolls are to blame, because so many people are against the system, implemented by SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on December 3, “and it’s easy, cloning is easy,” she said.

Louw noted that the number plate industry in SA is not regulated. “When any criminal sees an unregulated industry, it’s like an open door for them.” She said that modern technology is making it easier to clone plastic plates.

The company lead said that in the nine provinces in South Africa, there are more than 400 official number plate variations. Louw believes that number can be cut down to about 20 if a ban on plastic number plates was enforced.

The Sana spokesperson said that cases involving cloned plates are always thrown out of court as the legal system has far bigger matters to deal with. However, Louw pointed out that cloned plates are almost always used in serious crimes like hijackings. “It should be seen as a serious offence,” she said.

“There is definitely an increase in cloning as people are against e-tolls,” Louw said, adding that it’s no longer only syndicates who clone plates, but the everyday citizens “who are fed up with Sanral’s e-toll system.”

And to avoid easy detection, more plates are becoming difficult to trace as criminals scan the roads for a vehicle of the same make, colour and model as theirs and then copy its number plate.

Louw pointed to a survey conducted some time ago which revealed that as many as 40% of number plates in Gauteng, were illegal or non-compliant.

Sanral’s spokesman Vusi Mona admitted that number plate cloning was a problem, The Star reported.

“But, as things stand, it looks limited to a few vehicles that have been reported to the call centre,” he said.

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E-tolls blamed for the rise in cloned plates