The Bokone Bophirima Department of Community Safety and Transport Management announced today the implementation of a securitised number plate system that is aimed at tackling organised vehicle crime and the growing incidence of vehicle and licence plate cloning head on.
The securitised number plate system is a methodology for the secure distribution of securitised number plates in the province. This advanced system will record and control the manufacture, distribution and issuance of uniquely encoded number plates to motorists using 2D barcode technology in order 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 the number plates in the system.
Additionally, it also allows for the management of pricing of what motorists are being charged for number plates within acceptable and fair market price parameters, avoiding the issue of pricing exploitation by number plate distributors and car dealerships who charge consumers varying prices for licence plates.
“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,” says the MEC of the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, Gaoage Molapisi.
“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, the 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,” says Molapisi.
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 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.
For legitimate vehicle owners who fall victim to cloning fraudsters, the implications are onerous. “You could face fines and tolls accumulated by fraudsters using your cloned details. Even worse, if a cloned vehicle is used in a serious crime such as an armed robbery, hijacking or murder, you could find yourself on the receiving end of an arrest and legal action. In each instance, the onus will be on you, the legitimate road user to prove your innocence, usually at significant legal cost, not to mention trauma and frustration.
“Even after the matter is reported to the SAPS and you succeed in getting your number plate officially changed, under the current system, the cloned number plate number will remain in the system for criminals to ply their illegal activities and put innocent lives at risk. With the new Securitised Number Plate system, we aim to make our roads and communities safer for all South Africans and protect against this form of vehicle identity fraud,” Molapisi adds.
New vehicles and registrations will be effective from February 2016.