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What does the law say about cars without number plates?

All vehicles must be licenced, whether on a public road or not. As soon as a vehicle has been licenced, the owner of the motor vehicle must ensure that a licence plate has been affixed to the vehicle in the required manner irrespective of usage, that is, public road or not.  

You may not use a motor vehicle on a public road if the licence plate on the vehicle does not apply to the vehicle itself or where the licence plate is obscured or illegal except where the obscurity or illegality is temporary and was caused by something that the owner had no control over.

From the above, it is clear that the law places an obligation on the owner of a motor vehicle to ensure that the motor vehicle is properly licenced and that the licence is displayed accordingly.  Failure to do this will mean that the owner is in breach of the National Road Traffic Act and therefore committing an illegal act, which will lead to the owner of the motor vehicle / driver to be fined accordingly.  However, should the owner / motorist be able to show that the temporary obscurity/illegality was beyond his control then he or she might be able to escape liability. 

Finally, please note that where a motorist has bought a vehicle and needs to have it delivered to the prospective owner, the owner will have a temporary permit issued in his favour so that the vehicle may be used on a public road prior to registration. Please note that a temporary permit is valid for a period of 21 days only.  

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