The South African police and Sars have cracked down on super-cheap second-hand cars being imported into the country, leaving many motorists without a ride.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, around 20,000 vehicles are illegally registered and sold in South Africa each year.
Since late 2018, however, the police and Sars have started taking action.
The second-hand vehicles are mainly from China and are shipped to South African ports. There, they are taken by criminals and fraudulently registered on the eNatis system – after which they are sold to buyers, many of whom are not aware of the vehicle’s status.
An example of the fallout is a local woman who purchased a 2017 VW Touran for R120,000 from a car dealer, who is a Congolese national, in February 2018. The car normally retails for over double this price, stated the report.
In October, she was visited by police who confiscated the car and said it had been fraudulently registered.
Another example is a when a local woman purchased a 2017 Toyota Yaris for R60,000 – which would normally sell for R170,000. Her car was also seized in October by police for the same reason.
The SA police stated that hundreds of South African have fallen victim to the same fate, and that anyone who bought an illegal vehicle would have no legal recourse.
Once the illegal vehicles are seized by police, they are handed to Sars.
The tax authority then destroy the vehicles. Previously, they were sold on auction for export, but “invariably found their way back into SA”.
A police source added that they are looking into how the vehicles are taken through local customs by the criminal groups and how they are registered on the eNatis system.
It is suspected that the vehicles are legally shipped to South Africa, but are intended for further shipment to neighbouring countries. A portion of these vehicles destined for sub-Saharan Africa are taken by criminals and brought into South Africa.
Not owning a car
While South Africa’s public transport systems leave a lot to be desired, private companies like Uber and Taxify make it much easier for people to get around without owning a car.
A recent test by MyBroadband showed that both platforms offer good service in Johannesburg – and users are able to quickly hail a ride and get to their destination in good time.
This can be a much cheaper option than owning a car, as users only pay for transport when they need to use it – instead of fixed monthly car repayments and insurance fees.