Earlier this year there was talk of new South African number plate laws that would come into effect in 2017; however, despite no official roll-out date, the new rules have encountered a setback in North West.

The new plates are part of the Department of Transport’s strategy to standardise number plates in SA. It will supposedly form part of the National Road Traffic Act as well as the South African National Standard for number plates.

Although, earlier this month the High Court ruled against the North West Department for Community Safety and Transport’s tender process for its proposed number plates.

According to High Court Judge N. Gutta, outsourcing the creation of the new number plates to a third party (Retrone Road & Traffic Solutions (Pty) Ltd) instead of The South African Number Plate Association (SANA) is “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 National Chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, Howard Dembovsky, welcomed the ruling, saying it is a step towards curbing corruption: “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”.

Whether or not the nationwide roll-out will face similar setbacks remains to be seen, but having  the High Court rule in favour of fairness and transparency is certainly a relief.