Number’s up for NW

HOD Bailey Mahlakoleng (left) hands over a set of securitised number plates to MEC Gaoage Molapisi of the Bokone Bophirima Department of Community Safety and Transport Management.

Following an apparent name change, the North West Province is due for new, advanced number plates


Uh-oh … new number plates are on the cards again. At least, for now, only in the North West (NW) Province – which, just by the by, was quietly renamed Bokone Bophirima (BB) in mid-2015 …

Yes, I was blissfully ignorant of that as well, so it couldn’t have caused the consternation historically associated with high-profile name changes. Maybe the locals let it slide because Bokone Bophirima is simply the Tswana version of North West Province.

Whatever the case, what is more likely to cause an uproar is that, during December, the Bokone Bophirima Department of Community Safety and Transport Management announced that it would be implementing a new number plate system. (Remember the indignation and confusion when Gauteng Province introduced the two letters, two-numbers, two-letters format a few years ago?)

The new plates for NW – now BB – will apply to new vehicle registrations from February and the changeover of number plates for existing vehicles will be set out in Schedule 5 of new regulations, also commencing in February. Why, when GP motorists were allowed to keep their existing three-letters, three-numbers plates does NW have to change its plates?

The first reason is the obvious, new BB suffix – but it is the second reason that intrigues me more. The new plates are the first in the country to use a Securitised Number Plate System, the aim of which is to tackle organised vehicle crime and the growing prevalence of vehicle and licence plate cloning.

A methodology for the secure distribution of the plates, the system uses 2D barcode technology to record and control the manufacture, distribution and issuance of the uniquely encoded number plates, matching vehicle registration data with number plate details.

The idea is that every supplier in the value chain – from the material manufacturer, the blanker, distributor and embosser – has accountability for every process in their domain, with auditable traceability and management of the number plates in the system.

It is hoped that this initiative will stem the 40 000-and-growing number of cloned vehicles on South Africa’s roads.

“Without accountability for how, and to whom, these plates are issued, duplication is so much easier, leading to fraudulent and criminal activities,” says MEC of the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, Gaoage Molapisi.

“You could face fines and toll fees 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. With the new Securitised Number Plate system, we aim to make our roads and communities safer and protect against this form of vehicle identity fraud,” he continues.

The new number plates can be acquired at all registered number plate outlets in the North West Province. The vehicle registration or licence papers and acceptable identification, as per the National Road Traffic Act, will be required. It is intended that the number plates are to be replaced every five years to allow for additional enhanced security …

Here’s hoping this’ll all be worth it for the good citizens of NW. BB, I mean …

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Focus on Transport

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