Driver’s licence chaos in South Africa — over 40,000 fines issued for expired cards

Some motorists in South Africa still face long waiting periods when renewing their driver’s licences, despite the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) saying cards are produced within six weeks.

A spokesperson for the RTMC also told MyBroadband that law enforcement officers issued 40,000 fines to motorists operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s licence.

“We would like to warn motorists that law enforcement officers are now implementing regulations on driving licences,” they said.

“More than 40,000 fines were issued to drivers who were operating a vehicle without valid driving licence cards in May.”

This works out to around 1,300 fines a day.

With the penalty for driving without a valid licence set at R1,250, law enforcement officials issued approximately R50 million in fines to motorists during May 2022.

The spokesperson said that the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) had improved on the delivery of cards but added that motorists are not collecting their licences.

“The Driving Licence Card Account, a division of the national department of transport, has improved on the delivery of driving licence cards. The waiting period is now within six weeks,” they said.

“We are still sitting with thousands of uncollected driving licence cards, some dating as far back as October last year.”

“Motorists are urged to collect their documents to avoid unnecessary fines at this difficult economic time in the country. Every penny counts these days,” the spokesperson added.

Despite the RTMC’s claim that those renewing their licences can collect their completed card within six weeks, there are still numerous complaints of far longer waiting periods on social media platforms.

“10 to 12 weeks, are you happy about that? What is the main purpose of us renewing our licenses? Just to do an eye test? This is a joke,” one Twitter user said.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula visited the DLCA in January 2022

“I did my renewal in March till to date I haven’t got an SMS saying I should get my license,” another posted.

Another user voiced their frustration that they had also applied for their licence renewal in March, but when they followed up on its progress in July, officials told them the DLCA had not yet printed it.

Those who have applied to renew their driver’s licence can check their progress by sending their ID number to an SMS shortcode implemented by the DLCA — 33214.

However, some motorists have gone to fetch their cards after being told they can collect them, only to find that they are not, in fact, ready.

“Useless message, card was not ready😡😡😡😡😡. Have to go back again😡😡😡,” one Twitter user said.

The DLCA faced a massive backlog of driver’s licence renewal applications primarily caused by motorists struggling to secure renewal appointments for their licence cards at Drivers Licence Testing Centres due to a substantial backlog worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This forced transport minister Fikile Mbalula to allow several extensions to the renewal deadline for motorists — which he had initially set for 31 March 2021.

The backlog worsened further when the country’s only driver’s licence printing machine broke down in November 2021.

At its peak, the backlog built up to around 2.1 million cards, and in May 2022, the DLCA said it expected to clear the backlog by the end of June.

MyBroadband also asked the Department of Transport for an update on the backlog, but it had not answered our questions by the time of publication.

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