Gauteng motorists may have to replace their vehicle number plates every five years if proposals by transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs are accepted.

A detailed draft notice by Jacobs, which was leaked to The Times yesterday, also details how motorists in Gauteng will have to replace, at their own cost, their existing number plates with new ones that have added security features.

According to the draft notice, number plates will only be valid for five years and will carry a decal indicating the year of expiry.

The new plates, with enhanced security features, would be accompanied by a tamper-proof validation label which would have to be affixed to the lower left side inside the rear window that would also have to be renewed every five years.

The document reads: “A number plate validation label shall be valid for five years from the date of issue. The fee for issue of a number plate validation label shall be prescribed by the MEC.”

Motorists will also have to accompany applications for new labels or plates if either are lost, stolen or destroyed, with an affidavit made to police and an occurrence book reference number.

Currently, a basic set of plastic number plates costs about R120 to replace, and there is no set time limit on the life of the plates.

James Swart, DA spokesman on roads, said: “This does not seem like a few strokes on a piece of paper done over a cup of coffee. It is very detailed. It is worrying because it is not clear if anybody in the industry has been consulted.”

Swart wanted to know who would supply the new number plates, and if it would not lead to a monopoly in production.

He said: “There seems to be a trend of surprise announcements by the MEC, like when he revealed the new number plate system as a passing reference in his budget speech.”

Alfred Nhlapo, spokesman for the Gauteng transport department, said yesterday the new system was still in a consultative process: “We will propose certain things, but it does not translate into any regulation yet. A notice has not been published for public comment. There is an internal legislative process followed first and we do not want to jump the gun on it.”

Nhlapo denied any intended monopoly: “ We have started consulting manufacturers. Our role is to ensure regulations and not to change the landscape of the manufacturing industry. It is not about reducing the number of manufacturers.”

Nhlapo said the five-year renewal period was based on international practices researched by a team from the department.

He said that this would help the authorities to establish an audit trial for licence plates and vehicle ownership, where motorists’ information would be updated, and it would help to combat fraud.