Applicants queue to book for their motor vehicle driving licence at the Verulam Testing Centre. Picture: Bongani Mbatha
DAILY NEWS - Learner's and driver’s licence applicants were turned away yesterday from the Verulam Testing Centre after officials only allowed 200 applicants to apply for the day.

Many of the applicants had travelled long distances using public transport and arrived early, only to be turned away while still in the queue. Staff refused to hand out more application forms.

This has been the norm at most test centres, including Rossburgh and Pinetown, where officials have an unofficial cut-off number.

Maria Kohm arrived at 8am unaware of the unorthodox system that officials use.

She was told to leave by guards because 200 applications had been handed out and bookings were closed.

“When I got there, 20 people were behind me. We were all turned away. The person that had the number 200 said more than 50 people had left prior to my arrival. Officials had walked through the line, handed the forms out and then signed his form. They wrote the number 200 on the back. He had to be the unofficial spokesman telling people he was the last in the queue.

"The rest were told to come back at 6am, although the place does not open at 6am,” she said.

Kohm approached an official at the desk, who apparently would not give her a form for the next day. Most applicants had taken time off work or from college.

A man who would only identify himself as Sifiso said he arrived just after 7am and was lucky to be allocated number 195.

Sydenham resident Sizwe Makhoba arrived at 7.30am, but was turned away.

“I saw people in tears leaving here. They travelled so far to be rejected. They should put up adequate signage to inform us how this place operates,” said Kohm.

Transport Department spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said the allegations would be investigated.

“Nothing should stop officials from serving the public. Putting people first is the government’s priority. Nowhere in our policy does it state we must only serve a certain number of people.There is no point in sending people away when they are at the testing station,” he said.

Tozi Mthethwa, spokesperson for the eThekwini Municipality, which manages the station, said: "The numbers are restricted to ensure that staff are able to process all transactions before the end of the day.

"The restriction is not a predetermined number, but dependent on the efficiency on a given day which is impacted on by staff availability, information technology systems and other equipment used to process all applications. The nature of transactions also impacts on the number of applications that can be processed in a day."

Mthethwa said a staff member was dedicated to handing out forms to people, announcements were made and security was there to advise people if the queue was closed.

She said they would look into the issue of signage.

"We are currently in the process of engaging additional staff and we have requested additional equipment from the relevant provincial department, on whose behalf the municipality manages the centre.”

Daily News