Car plates will help the cops

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

The owners of the 3,5 million vehicles registered in Gauteng should brace themselves for new high-tech number plates to be introduced early next year.

The so-called "intelligent" number plates are designed to curb car thefts, the cloning of car registration numbers and number plates, and to help police enforce the law.

Motorists will have to pay for a new set of plates, but they will not incur additional costs, says the department of transport.

Alfred Nhlapo, a spokesman for the Gauteng department of transport, said vehicles would also be fitted with a third plate on the rear window called a number validation label. Officers would be able to scan this plate to verify details about the owner and the vehicle.

"The validation will find out if the plate is authentic and will compare the details on the records with those of the driver. This will also strengthen relations between law-enforcement authorities and the public," Nhlapo said.

The national validation label would feature a unique barcode and other security features that would help stamp out the cloning of car registrations and number plates.

"The plates will be as unique and personal as DNA. There is no way these plates can be duplicated."

Both types of plates can be read by officers and by scanners.

"The department is rolling out a consultative process with the manufacturing industry, the number-plate embossers and other relevant parties," Nhlapo said.

"The MEC is also looking at draft documents that seek to ensure the alignment of all relevant laws, including preparations for the publishing of such documents and for public comment."

As Gauteng's fleet of registered vehicles has mushroomed to 3,5 million, officials have found that they are running out of new numbers.

"The current system gives us less than five million available permutations," Nhlapo said.

"The new system will help, considering the high rate of car purchases in this province."

MEC for public transport, roads and works Ignatius Jacobs said consultations would run for six months and that the system should be introduced on January 1.