Of heads and tails – Department of Transport causes confusion over draft number plates amendments

JOHANNESBURG – Since stories of the introduction of a new number plate format applicable to the entire country first started doing the rounds last week, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has consistently maintained that the proposed amendments contained in Government Gazette 38430 of 28 January 2015have not been promulgated yet and therefore, people should avoid “getting their nickers in a knot” about them.

However, JPSA was alarmed to see the comments of the official Transport Department spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi in an IOL report stating that: “the document that has been doing the rounds is not authentic and neither has the department made a determination to the effect reflected therein.” He also allegedly said “We condemn the fabricated document with the contempt it deserves and urge all South Africans to ignore it while we investigate its source”.

The alleged non-authentic “fabricated document” referred to is Government Gazette 38430 of 28 January 2015, the download link to which provided by MyBroadband directs users directly to the SA Government website where Government Gazettes may be downloaded by anyone interested in the contents of such gazettes and is regularly used by JPSA and all manner of other people and entities to do so.

Later today however (at 12:39), the Department of Transport appeared to have completed its investigation and put out a media release dealing with the draft amendments to number plate regulations contained in that Government Gazette. Therein, it now acknowledges the fact that it has indeed planned amendments to number plate regulations, further saying: “At the end of the Departmental consultation process, the matter will be presented to Cabinet”.

According to the SA Government website at www.gov.za, this “consultation process” came to an end on 28 February 2015.

JPSA is very concerned about the fact that it is quite clear that the head does not appear to know what the tail is doing at the Department of Transport. Mr Mnisi’s allegations of fraud, fabrication and rumour-mongering were quite clearly false and the Department of Transport has not so much as had the common decency to apologise for his actions.

While it has become a popular tactic if the Department of Transport and its various State Owned entities to accuse others of “misleading the public”, based upon little more than their own disdain for anyone outside of government, this behaviour is no less distasteful.

We therefore call upon the Minister of Transport to do the responsible thing and issue a formal apology to those who have been insulted and had their integrity slandered by spokespeople for the Department of Transport and others.