A note at the licensing centre in Centurion to inform drivers that no licence renewals will be issued yet owing to the break-in. Picture: Bongani Shilubane.

Pretoria motorists who want to renew their licences will have to wake up extra early to beat the lengthy queues at Akasia or Bronkhorstspruit licence centres. This comes after three licence centres - Waltloo, Centurion and Rayton - remain offline for an unspecified period of time.

Some services at the Centurion licensing centre remain offline after a break-in last week during which several computers and camera equipment were stolen.

An unknown number of suspects broke into the centre. Police said no arrests have yet been made.

The only available services are: learner licence testing, driving licence testing and driving licence card collection.

Mayoral spokesperson Sam Mgobozi could not put a date on the normalisation of services. “All stolen computer infrastructure, including procurement/installation and maintenance thereof fall under the jurisdiction of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport in conjunction with the Driving Licence Card Account Entity,” he said.

Last week motorists flocked to the Centurion licensing centre after being turned away from several licensing departments around the city including Waltloo, Akasia and Rayton.

Many motorists had to use the Centurion licensing centre as an alternative for their licensing woes. As expected, the queues at the Centurion offices were snaking around the licensing centre.

On Tuesday the premises were almost deserted with only a few people waiting. The halls, normally packed to the rafters, were empty. Notices on the walls read: "No PRDP, No driving licence renewals, sorry for the inconvenience.”

Rayton licensing department was no different; the offices have been under renovation since January and are not yet operational.

"No sense of professionalism"

Motorists still have little faith in the Akasia licensing centre, claiming it is unreliable and constantly offline. Last week furious motorists said they had waited in long queues, hoping services would be restored.

“In Akasia there is no sense of professionalism. You almost have to beg and grovel with the staff just to inquire if they are online. There are no notices and some staff sit and bask in the sun,” said an angry Sfiso Mkhwanazi who lives in Soshanguve.

Another motorist said he took a day off work but left empty handed.

In June this year, Akasia licensing centre also had a break-in. According to police, nothing was taken, and two people were arrested.

Waltloo licensing centre faced two incidents this year. It had a break-in on June 1 when equipment was stolen. This included seven live capturing unit computer systems used for eye testing and thumb imprints; e-NaTis System Computers; one revenue information management system; and three of the city’s computers.

In another incident on June 20, security personnel and officials of the city were assaulted and injured by unknown assailants.

The robbers escorted a security guard to the safe and stole an undisclosed amount of money.

Limited services at the centre include: collection of driving licences; applications for learners and driving licences; and testing of learners and driving licences.

Mgobozi said it was not a crisis, motorists must use alternative licensing centres out of the city. A driving licence test may be taken anywhere in terms of the legislation, he said.

“Members of the public are reminded that for driving licence testing or related services they may visit any other operational centres. This means city residents are not restricted to the metro's centres.”

Asked what happens when a licence has expired and motorists are unable to renew it owing to the packed licence centres will compassion be shown if they are stopped by the Metro Police? Mgobozi replied: “Not necessarily because in terms of the law a driving licence card holder may renew at any licensing centre in the country. Having said that, merits in each case may be considered by the law enforcement agency.”

Pretoria News