Batswana importing second-hand vehicles from Japan and Singapore may be forced to reroute their imports through alternative ports if South Africa succeeds in its attempt to stop the cars coming in through its ports.
South Africa wants to ban the use of its roads to move imported second hand vehicles into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has reserved judgment in the case that has generated a lot of interest in the region. Botswana car dealers have been cited as the major culprits alongside their counterparts in SADC states namely Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia and Namibia.
According to SABC, an average of 6 000 used vehicles are imported monthly through the Durban harbor, mainly from Japan. Agents who transport the vehicles apply for special permits in terms of the Road Traffic Act.
But, according to the National and Kwazulu-Natal departments of transport these special permits are illegally duplicated and some of the vehicles are brought back into South Africa.
This results in an average loss of a billion rand a year in duty-taxes not being paid. Thirty-seven agent associations are challenging the case in the Appeal Court.
The vehicles are not registered and/or licenced in South Africa. A three-day special permit is granted to obtain a roadworthiness certificate and a 21-day permit, which allows the vehicles to be driven on South African roads.
The National and Kwazulu-Natal departments of transport cites a certain regulation in the Road Traffic Act, which states that these special permits can only be issued to the owner of an unregistered or unlicenced vehicle, and it may only be issued on vehicles that are intended to be registered and licenced in the Republic of South Africa.
The alternative will be for the vehicles to be transported by motor carrier, but the agents say there is a short supply of these and it is very expensive. The transport departments argued that these special permits are illegally duplicated and that some of these exported vehicles are illegally brought back into the country. A growing number of Batswana are opting to import cheaper second hand cars from Japan and Singapore and banks are now moving in to finance the imports.