North West launches new Number Plates

The Bokone Bophirima Department of Community Safety and Transport Management (North West Province) has announced a number plate system aimed at tackling organised vehicle crime and the growing incidence of vehicle and licence plate cloning.

The new system is a methodology for the secure distribution of securitised number plates in the province. It will record and control the manufacture, distribution and issue of uniquely encoded number plates to motorists using 2D barcode technology to control the number plate supply chain and empower law enforcement to detect fraudulent number plates.

This means that every supplier in the value chain, from the material manufacturer, the blanker, distributor and embosser, has accountability for each and every process in their domain, with audited traceability and management of number plates in the system.

It also allows for the management of pricing, avoiding the issue of pricing exploitation by number plate distributors and car dealerships who charge consumers varying prices for licence plates.

Gaoage Molapisi, MEC of the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, says, “There are a number of challenges with the current number plate system that motivated a move to a new securitised system which has at its core, crime prevention, public safety and empowering of law enforcement.

“Right now there are over 350 variations of plates in South Africa, giving rise to growing vehicle registration fraud that leaves innocent South Africans at serious risk. In fact, vehicle cloning is on the increase, driven by the ease with which a number plate can be obtained. In many instances, it’s as simple as walking into a licence plate outlet and asking for one – with no vehicle registration papers, licence disk or ID required.”

Currently, graphics and fonts are not compliant with provincial regulations and SANS 1116, and there is no link between the manufacturer of number plate blanks with the embosser of blanks within the production process, leaving no accountability for how and to whom these plates are issued.

“This makes duplication of the plates so much easier, leading to fraudulent and criminal activities where stolen or cloned vehicles are exported across borders, used in robberies, hijackings, bank and cash-in-transit robberies and evasion of traffic fines and e-tolls.

“Nationally stolen vehicles to the value of R4,9-billion are taken across the border, while in 2013 approximately 39 000 vehicles reappeared in the system as clones, costing a fortune to the insurance industry alone. This does not even begin to take into account the trauma experienced by innocent South Africans who fall victim to cloning crime.”

Clones are vehicles with false plates which have been assigned to another vehicle where the second vehicle is the same make, model and colour as the legitimate owner, making it exceptionally difficult to pick out the illegal one. These false plates can be random, made-up numbers which aren’t in the licensing system, or numbers that are in the system, but applied to a different vehicle by fraudsters.

Benefits of the new system include ensuring that the motor vehicle identification is protected, matching vehicle registration data with number plate details by including a unique code identifier, ensuring uniformity of number plates and provincial compliance, legally and authentically obtained, difficult to duplicate, replacement every five years to allow for additional enhanced security.

New number plate will be effective for new vehicles and registrations from February 2016. The changeover of number plates for existing vehicles will be set out in Schedule 5 of new regulations, commencing February 2016.

New number plates can be acquired at all registered number plate outlets in the North West province. Applicants will need to provide the vehicle registration or licence papers, RSA identity book, smart ID card or driver’s licence or any other acceptable identification as per the National Road Traffic Act.