Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Personalised number plates – cool or just plain stupid?

Personalised number plates have become popular but they could bring unwanted attention

Personalised number plates can be very cool for your shiny sports car or even the little skorokoro, but it can also be your worst nightmare.  

Customised number plates have grown in popularity since the Department of Transport announced that motorists can personalise number plates with any combination of numbers and letters.

Car owners have come up with weird and wonderful number plates that grab your attention.

However, its this attention that can either get you noticed or in serious trouble.

ALSO READ: WATCH: The Citizen Motoring man dragged through the mud!

Some of the weird and wonderful plates I have seen over the years include “Fatman GP” which used to belong to former 94.7 radio host Jeremey Mansfield.

What about “Bah Bah.” It was a black Jeep and it took me a while to figure it out but I eventually got it.

Another interesting number plate I saw was written PD4BYX (paid for by ex), but the one that got a lot of attention, possibly even by the police, was a black BMW with a Gauteng number plate that read “Stolen GP.”

Some others include these hilarious ones:

On a more serious note, I heard a discussion on a radio show earlier this month where the host asked why someone would want to personalise their number plates?

I thought about it for a while and perhaps it is stupid to advertise who you are because you could become a target for road rage and also possibly criminals and hijackers.  

It is easier to remember a name instead of a generic number plate.

Imagine seeing Faizel driving on the highway in his classic James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 with the number plate “Faizel GP” on a secret mission like the British spy, weaving between lanes and hooting for other motorists to get out of his way.

What the radio host said was enlightening. Despite the stunning car drawing a lot of attention, having a personalised plate now makes it known who the car belongs to or who is driving it.

So, when you tell the story to a friend, the incident comes flowing back with, “do you know what this guy called ‘Faizel’ driving an Aston Martin did on the highway?”

There you go, you’ve just been outed boet and now that story will spread like wildfire and everyone will know what Faizel did, including the cops. If there was a crime committed, you could face a hefty fine or time behind bars.

Then there are the stories of cheaters being caught because someone they know randomly walks past a house at 3am in the morning and recognises their car being where it ought not to be.

However, there is also a positive side to having personalised number plates.

Businesses increasingly use personalised number plates these days. Its good advertising in a challenging economic climate.

So, I say go for it. Personalise your number plates all you want because the more targets on the road, the better for the vengeful road-rage-infested drivers to target you more and make you famous for all the wrong reasons or perhaps even the right reasons.

As for me, I think I will happily stick to my anonymous and boring number plate. I just don’t like being pointed at and made fun of or even being a target.

Have you seen a number plate in the traffic that made you chuckle a little? There are plenty out there if you look close enough. We would like to hear from you.

Share some of the best and more hilarious number plates you have seen on the country’s roads on our social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Alternatively, share your thoughts via email: hello@citizen.co.za.

Read more on these topics

cars Columns Department of Transport license

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits