By Penny Fourie
The Automobile Association(AA) and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have made an urgent appeal to transport minister Fikile Mbalula to reconsider extending the deadline for the renewal of driver’s licences.
On Thursday, hundreds of motorists rushed to Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) to renew their licences as this was the last day given by Mbalula for all expired licences to be renewed or motorists would face penalties or fines by traffic officials.
Mbalula announced last year that licences that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 will be valid until 31 March 2022.
But the national lockdown imposed on the country last year forced licencing centres to close, resulting in a massive backlog of expired licences.
This was compounded after the country’s only licence printing machine broke down at the end of 2021, leaving approximately half a million South African motorists stuck with expired driving licence cards.
OUTA estimates that over one million motorists will be sitting with expired licences next month.
The organisation's Advocate Stefanie Fick says an extension must be granted.
"OUTA proposes that law enforcement agencies be instructed to not issue fines for motorists whose driver's licences cards have expired in the past 12 months as this may lead to unlawful enforcement.
"The public's inability to comply with the regulations is largely due to the department's incompetence and the public shouldn't be punished for this."
Automobile Association of SA spokesperson Layton Beard said they have been making the call for a better way of renewing driver’s licences.
“We feel that the whole process of renewing a driver’s licence should be done online. Payment can be done online and eye tests can be submitted directly via an optometrist online. Motorists are frustrated by getting booking slots and standing in queues,” said Beard.
Mbalula is expected to announce his decision on whether he extends the deadline on Friday, 1 April.
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