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Rising Vehicle-Related Crime Highlights Issue of Number Plate Cloning in South Africa View My Fines

Rising Vehicle-Related Crime Highlights Issue of Number Plate Cloning in South Africa

Vehicle-related crime in South Africa is seeing an uptick, with a range of offences that extend beyond the well-known issues of hijackings and car thefts. A less common but significantly impactful crime is vehicle number-plate cloning, a phenomenon that is affecting a considerable number of South African motorists, according to reports from Law for All.

The Extent of Plate Cloning in South Africa

Law for All sheds light on this underreported issue, stating,

Much like identity theft, this means that a criminal can pass off your information and details as their own, and it has widespread consequences.

Although nationwide statistics are unavailable, it has been reported that approximately one in five vehicles in Gauteng have experienced plate cloning. Criminals use these duplicate plates to evade traffic fines and e-toll fees. Law for All noted the alarming ease with which fraudulent number plates can be obtained, highlighting that,

it is as easy as walking into an SABS-approved shop and ordering one – without having to produce an ID or license disc.

They also mentioned the existence of ‘backstreet’ outlets selling fake plates.

The Impact on Motorists

Advocate Jackie Nagtegaal, the managing director at Law for All, emphasized the serious repercussions for the legal owners of the cloned plates. They are held responsible for any traffic fine incurred by the criminal using the fake number plate, putting them at risk of facing criminal charges if the fines remain unpaid for a prolonged period.

Nagtegaal warned,

The onus is on the legal owner of the vehicle to prove his or her innocence. This also means that motorists could face potential criminal charges if the fines go unpaid for a long period of time. In short, motorists can ‘commit crimes’ without their knowledge.

Moreover, unresolved fines can hinder the renewal of the vehicle’s licence disc.

How Do Traffic Fines Work in South Africa

Reporting Cloned Number Plates

In the event of falling victim to this crime, it is advised to report the matter promptly. Initiating a case with the South African Police Service (SAPS) is a crucial step, along with informing local metro police and traffic officials.

To address traffic fines accumulated through fraudulent plates, contacting the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is recommended. The agency aims to “ensure that individuals understand their rights and options” in relation to road violations. Disputing fines issued by AARTO should be done through its online query system, albeit it might be a long and frustrating process.

Preventing the Purchase of a Car with Cloned Plates

To curb the perpetuation of this issue, potential car buyers are urged to take the following measures:

  • Purchase only from reputable dealers
  • Avoid cars lacking an owner’s manual or service book
  • Verify that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches the chassis number, checking for signs of tampering
  • Ensure the availability and functionality of two sets of keys
  • Request proof of registration and residence from private sellers when buying a car with cash


Law for All encourages vigilance, urging individuals to report any suspicious activity promptly, as they foresee no immediate slowdown in vehicle-related crimes. They stress the importance of being extra cautious in the current climate to protect oneself from the repercussions of this criminal activity.


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