According to a recent report in the Sunday Times, around 20 000 vehicles are illegally registered and sold in South Africa every year, prompting the SAPS and SARS into action.
These cheap, second-hand cars are brought into the country from China – predominantly – shipped to our local ports, intercepted by criminals and then fraudulently registered on the absolute fiasco that is the eNatis system.
These vehicles are then sold to buyers who are completely unaware of the vehicle’s illegal status, and who are under the impression that they’ve just struck the bargain of a lifetime.
The Sunday Times highlighted an example of a woman who had bought a 2017 VW Touran for only R120 000 from a Congolese car ‘dealer’ earlier last year, introduced to her by her own daughter. In fact, that vehicle commonly retails for around R290 000 – over double the price.
The SAPS confiscated the car eight months later, noting that it had been fraudulently registered. She was 68 years old at the time, and lost her life savings.
Another woman purchased a nice little 2017 Toyota Yaris for a calm R60 000, almost R100 000 cheaper than it should be. This car, too, was confiscated.
If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Unfortunately for the hundreds of South Africans who have been duped by this alleged scam, they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, and may find themselves without a ride.
According to the SAPS, anybody who bought an illegal vehicle, regardless of whether they knew about it or not, would have no legal recourse.
Previously, these vehicles would have been sold on auction for export, but somehow, they would just end up back in South Africa again.
It’s almost as if our country is a magnet for crime.
Now, the illegal vehicles are handed over to SARS, and then destroyed.
But, this doesn’t address the actual problem at hand – how are these illegal vehicles being taken through local customs by the criminal organizations? Honest South Africans can barely get a package from Amazon through customs, let alone masses of illegal vehicles.
And how are they being registered on the eNatis system?
The SAPS suspects that the vehicles are, in fact, legally shipped to South Africa – intended to then be shipped on to neighbouring countries, which rely on passage through South Africa for their imports.
A portion of these cars, destined for sub-Saharan Africa, are then skimmed by the criminals and sold to unsuspecting South Africans.
Constant vigilance. In the modern age, scams and tricks abound in almost every possible sector of the world. Used cars, new cars, licencing scams, fake agents, financing scams – the list goes on and on. So how do we deal with this specific scam making the rounds all over the country?
The truth is, there isn’t much you can do about it once the deal is done. The only way to ensure you’re buying the right vehicle is to do thorough homework, be aware, sceptical and only trust known and reliable sellers.
In speaking with MyBroadband, CSO of WeBuyCars, Dirk van der Walt, said that the general rule of illegal imports is that these cars will be much, much cheaper than the usual retail price.
A little bit of homework goes a long way – and there are many ways to find out what a car is actually worth. It’s safe to say that when you buy cheap, you usually get what you’re paying for. So, if somebody offers you an expensive car at a really cheap price, something is quite possibly wrong.
There may be other tell-tale signs, such as Chinese writing on labels inside the vehicle or service book – a good indication that this car just isn’t meant for local sale.
The onus, unfortunately, is on the buyer. While the problem should definitely, first and foremost, be sorted out by the Road Traffic Management Corporation in order to protect South African consumers, well…
Let’s not kid ourselves.
The governing bodies of their industry couldn’t tell their head from a hole in the ground.
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