Johannesburg - The South African Department of Transport has extended the grace period for those with expired driving licences to 5 May.
This applies to those South Africans whose driving licence cards expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021. During a media briefing ahead of the Easter Weekend, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula warned that due to the state of disaster ending, the department could no longer issue directions that further extended the grace period.
“The final opportunity is provided by the current Regulations which extends the grace period by 30 days from the date of the end of the state of disaster,” Mbalula said.
As the 31 March deadline for renewals loomed, the department initially extended the grace period to 15 April 2022. According to the Ministry at the end of March there was a backlog of 1 424 756 motorists who fell within the grace period but who had not yet applied for a new licence card.
The Automobile Association has argued that the 31 March deadline was an unrealistic one.
“Government’s priority should be to provide an environment conducive to renewing these documents, and to provide the necessary back-up systems to ensure timely production and delivery. This is currently not the case in the majority of DLTCs and is creating a situation that will, effectively, criminalise those who could not apply for renewals through no fault of their own,” the AA said.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has urged the Minister to engage with civil society and other stakeholders to address the impediments and design flaws that still exist within the on-line booking system.
“We furthermore urge the minister to make a decision on increasing the driver’s licence validity period from five to 10 years, which is common international practice and will go a long way to improving efficiency within government. The public should not have to go through this renewal process every five years.”
When announcing plans to introduce a new driving licence card in South Africa in late 2023, the Transport Minister said the department was considering extending the validity period of the new licence cards from five to 10 years.
To that end the RTMC has appointed a panel of researchers to look into the matter and a decision on whether or not to extend the validity period will be based on the findings of this study.
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