High-tech new number plates for Gauteng — massive hype and then silence

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport appears to have gone silent on launching its new high-tech number plates for motorists in the province.

At a two-day licensing conference held at the CSIR International Conventional Centre in Pretoria in late October 2023, department head Thulani Mdadane said the province would reveal the new number plates to the public before the end of the year.

In a statement published after the event, the department said it had unveiled the new number plates before the conference’s attendees.

“A prototype of the new, tamper-proof number plate was also shared with the conference to be officially unveiled before year-end,” it said.

However, a search of the department’s social media pages and the Gauteng Provincial Government’s website returned no evidence that this had ever been done.

The department hasn’t released any details relating to the project since.

MyBroadband asked the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport for an update on the new number plates, but it did not respond to our query.

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi first revealed the provincial government’s plans to launch new “tamper-proof” number plates during his State of the Province Address in February 2023.

He said this was necessary as cars are a common denominator in crimes across South Africa.

“In order to strengthen our fight against crime, we need to revamp our legislation on three crucial areas,” Lesufi said.

“The first one is the registration of cars because cars are a common denominator in violent crimes. Either as stolen cars or getaway vehicles.”

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

The current number plate system is coming to an end, with it running out of letters and numbers to identify specific vehicles.

Lesufi said the provincial government wants to take advantage of this to launch new number plates that are “very difficult to copy and tamper-proof”.

A Government Gazette, published on 17 February 2023 by Gauteng Transport MEC, Kedibone Diale-Tlabela, announced the province’s intention to publish draft regulations related to the new system.

Diale-Tlabela said that the new regulations would provide for the following:

  • The registration of suppliers of number plates and pay fees for applications;
  • The introduction of new security features to improve the credibility of number plates and to enable licence plate tracking within the value chain from manufacturer to end user; and,
  • The enhancement of existing security features and alignment to national and African standards.

She officially launched the registration process for manufacturers of vehicle number plates — a crucial component of its plan to launch the new system — in July 2023.

“We understand the importance of ensuring that manufacturers and embossers of number plates operate within the bounds of the law,” said Diale-Tlabela.

“Over the years, we have witnessed numerous challenges arising from non-compliant number plates, such as compromised safety, an increase in vehicle-related crime, and a lack of accountability from manufacturers.”

She added that the secure new number system would help to combat crime, corruption, vandalism, and lawlessness in the province.

The MEC said the department is proactively securing the entire value chain, from manufacturing to distribution, to ensure that Gauteng motorists can have confidence in the legitimacy and quality of their number plates.

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High-tech new number plates for Gauteng — massive hype and then silence