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High Court rules against proposed North West number plates

2017-11-03 18:12

Image: iStock

UPDATE: We've added comment from the JPSA and Arrive Alive at the end of this article. Wheels24 has reached out to the North West department of transport for comment.

Mafikeng - Earlier in 2017, Wheels24 reported on proposed new licence plates  and associated laws as part of the Department of Transport’s strategy to standardise number plates.

The Department of Transport said: "The security features of the number plates are part of the broad road safety strategy, which will ensure that we have the right vehicles on our roads, which to a larger extent contribute to the fatalities and carnage on our roads."

In November, the High Court has ruled against the North West Department for Community Safety and Transport’s tender process for its proposed number plates.

'Irregular, unfair and offensive'

The South African Number Plate Association (SANA) reports: "The High Court of North West has ruled in favour of the number plate industry and declared the North West Department for Community Safety and Transport’s tender process for the introduction and distribution of a securitized number plate system, be set aside.

"After years of litigation, High Court Judge N. Gutta found that the process followed was in the circumstances irregular, unfair and offensive to the constitutional rights of not only the suppliers of blank number plates, but to the number plate industry at large."

The proposed number plate:

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Tender deal

The ruling states: "The judge further stated that the North West Department for Community Safety and Transport did not have the right to simply introduce a  third  party into a private sector. Retrone Road & Traffic Solutions (Pty) Ltd, the appointed distributer, has made no significant investment in the industry and comparatively has little experience in the number plate industry, yet it was given the power to control the number plate industry in the North West Province for the introduction, securitisation and distribution of the proposed new number plate.

"The court also found that from evidence on record, a picture emerged of pre-knowledge of the tender by representatives of Retrone, which lend support to the finding of an ulterior purpose.

"The ruling was welcomed and industry, who is supportive of a national securitised number plate system, trusts that future negotiations would be an open consultation process that would include all relevant role players and the public consumer."

JPSA responds

Howard Dembovsky, National Chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, says: "This ruling is great news, not only for the number plate industry but for North West motorists at large. The North West Provincial Department of Community Safety and Transport has been on a curious mission of changing the number plates required for vehicles registered in the province for some time now and has left no doubt in anyone’s minds that it was engaging in practices of exclusively reserving business for buddies through gross abuses of the legislative processes. This has now been confirmed by the High Court, and not a minute too soon.

"While JPSA also supports the concept of a 'national securitised number plate system', as has been repeatedly mooted, it is hard not to be concerned that similar attempts to legislate buddies into business as have been displayed by a province with the second lowest (5.06% as at 30 September 2017) registered vehicle population in the country may arise from that idea."

Arrive Alive's Johan Jonck adds: "Even though this is not directly a 'Road Safety Matter' we welcome the approach by the court to consider all the facts and to decide in favour of fair competition and due process, ensuring that the motorists would not have to incur further unnecessary and unjustifiable expenses."

Read more on:    south africa  |  traffic laws

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