As at the end of June 2019, the eNatis system reflected a total vehicle population of 12 590 561 vehicles, of which 85% are light motor vehicles. South Africa does not have a regular regime of vehicle testing for most of these vehicles. For 80% of the vehicles on our roads, roadworthy testing and certification is only required on change of ownership.

Vehicles operated for reward, heavy goods vehicles as well as taxis are required to be tested annually, while buses are required to be tested every 6 months.

The industry operates within a highly regulated framework. Every test station is required to comply with various South African National Standards, as well as the National Road Traffic Act 96 of 1993. Test stations are individually registered by the various Provincial Governments; and can also be de-registered if they fail to comply with the regulatory framework. The Inspectorate of test stations is the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) who are required to conduct annual audits at each test station in the country. They are supported by the various Compliance Monitoring Units aligned to the Provincial Departments of Transport.

All test stations are required to operate within this framework. Test stations have to declare the results of all tests (pass, re-test or fail) directly onto the eNatis system. eNatis Officers are individually registered as users on the eNatis system, and Vehicle Examiners are also required to be registered by the Provincial authority.

Current roadworthy legislation is contained in Regulation 138 (1), which required roadworthy certification in the following instances:-

  • A used vehicle of which the owner has changed
  • A motor vehicle to which a notice to discontinue has been issued
  • A motor vehicle built, imported, or manufactured
  • A reconstructed or altered motor vehicle
  • RTQS vehicles required to be tested annually in terms of Regulation 142 (1) – taxis and trucks weighing more than 3500kg
  • Buses tested every 6 months since 1 November 2010.

No emission testing is required during the roadworthiness test, even so an examiner will fail or observe the exhaust system for the emission of black smoke.

The Minister of Transport has published legislation for the future that will entail all vehicles, 10 years and older, to undertake a roadworthiness test every 2 years. While this legislation has been published, the implementation date will be set “at a date to be determined by the Minister”, at which point vehicle testing every 2 years will become the statutory norm.

Vehicle test stations

The market is liberalised in South Africa with the vehicle testing function being performed both by municipal or provincial government test stations, as well as private test stations. There are approximately 570 registered test stations in South Africa, of which just over 300 are privately owned. (2012 figures)

Test stations have organised themselves into various associations; the biggest of which is the RMI-Vehicle Testing Association, which is affiliated to the RMI.

Decade of Action

South Africa is a signatory to the efforts of the United Nations with regard to their Decade of Action for Road Safety. In 2014, 12 702 people were killed on South African roads. According to the RTMC, vehicle factors are responsible for nearly 10% of accidents. This is evidence that, if vehicles were maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition, thousands of lives could be saved