KZN traffic officials are clamping down on motorists who remove their number plates in order to avoid fines for speeding, and the DA has called for the deadline for the new credit-card style licences to be extended.

KwaZulu-Natal traffic officials are clamping down on motorists who remove their number plates in order to avoid fines for speeding.

reported that more than 200 motorists were fined for this offence during the festive season. Many of the offenders were from Gauteng. A number of motorists removed their plates to avoid being detected by speed camera.

Provincial traffic police spokesperson Colin Govender told the newspaper they had worked out a plan to deal with such offenders. "We park a patrol car some distance down the road from the camera trap," he said. "When the camera operator sees a vehicle with no plates go through the trap he radios the patrol car ahead.

"The patrol car stops the vehicle, and the driver then gets his speeding ticket and a fine for not having a number plate."

In Gauteng, Johannesburg Metro Police spokesman Wayne Minnaar pointed out that putting clear lacquer paint over number plates in order to fool the cameras did not work. "They think that it will cause the flash on the camera to make the plate reflect so that we cannot see the number. They don't know that it comes out when we see the negatives,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance said the minister of transport should extend the deadline for the new credit card style drivers' licences by another six months. The changeover began five years ago and was extended by six months in August. The final deadline is the end of February.

"The process to transform old drivers' licences into the new credit card format is deteriorating into a shambles, and transport minister Dullah Omar owes South Africans an apology.

"The backlogs and bottle-necks being experienced are all self-imposed - but there is a way out: extend the deadline for new licences by another six months at least."

Department of Transport spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said another deadline extension was not necessary. "This project has been running for five years, and everyone has been warned that they must convert. We are convinced that we will be able to roll out all of the new licences,” he said.

He said motorists who are applying now for the new licence should get temporary licences if they do not think their new licence will arrive in time.