Illegal cars taken off the roads and moved via rail

Cheap second-hand cars imported from Japan, which are illegal in South Africa but popular in neighbouring countries, must now be transported from local ports to their destination via rail.

Cheap second-hand cars imported from Japan, which are illegal in South Africa but popular in neighbouring countries, must now be transported from local ports to their destination via rail.

This is the effect of a judgment handed down by the supreme court of appeal this week. The court ruled in favour of action taken by KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Bheki Cele and the South African Revenue Service, stopping the issue of permits that allow vehicles to be driven on the roads in transit between Durban Harbour and other African countries.

The clearing and shipping agents have lodged an application to appeal to the constitutional court.

Cele's spokesman, Nonkululeko Mbatha, said: "We are not stopping free trade. This decision merely protects our own public from the dangers associated with these vehicles.

"As of today [Friday], we will not be issuing any more 21-day or three-day permits. As of April 19, any second-hand transit vehicle making use of such a permit will be impounded and the operator will be prosecuted," she said.

The dispute began in May 2005 when the department stopped issuing the permits that allowed vehicles to be driven to testing stations to be checked for roadworthiness and then out of the country.

It is estimated that about 6000 vehicles are shipped into Durban Harbour every month for export.

The clampdown came about amid allegations that the vehicles did not meet South Africa's roadworthy standards and that certificates were being issued before the vehicles arrived in the harbour. There were also allegations that some cars were being illegally registered and sold in South Africa. - Sapa

X