People stand in long queues at Akasia licensing centre. Picture: Oupa Mokoena
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has made plans to provide some licensing department services after three city offices were hit by a spate of break-ins and thefts and two were forced to close down.

The Waltloo, Akasia and Centurion licensing departments were burgled and equipment stolen, leaving Waltloo and Centurion unable to provide services and therefore closed to the public.

Motorists from across the city have had to flock to Akasia, standing in long queues which start as early at 5am and waiting for hours before receiving assistance.

Last week frustrated motorists said they had returned to the Akasia department numerous times in an attempt to get service after being turned away when the number of those who could be assisted was reached.

On Monday the city said it had invoked a policy in line with licensing services management.

MMC for community safety Derrick Kissoonduth said: “In terms of the law, a driving licence card holder may renew their licence at any licensing centre in the country, any other convenient testing centre may be approached in this regard.”

He said motorists would get fines for expired licence discs as they could be renewed at the nearest post office, and, he said, a limited driving licence card renewal service had been introduced at the Centurion licensing centre.

Kissoonduth said applicants in possession of an optometrist’s eye test certificate would be assisted, but because of the break-in earlier this month the service was limited to about 100 clients a day. It became operational last Thursday.

Applicants who visited the Akasia and Bronkhorstspruit licensing centres were encouraged to take optometrist certificates along with them, to reduce the renewal procedure.

Executive mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga condemned the robberies, saying the city would do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators to book.

'Hands tied' 

According to Kissoonduth, the computers stolen at the Centurion licence centre were “special and unique computers” which were only issued by the national department of transport.

“We have to get direction from national level," he said. "As the city, we have our hands tied.”

The city has been besieged by licensing problems for months now after the various centres experienced problems, with services such as vehicle disc renewals, driving licence renewals and tests being disrupted by staff problems, off-line systems, cable theft, and, more recently, the theft of equipment.

Motorists, some of whom said they usually went to the centres on their way to and from work and other business engagements, have reacted with anger at the inconvenience of using one office, and the long queues at Akasia licensing centre.

Queuing from the early hours

When a Pretoria News team visited the offices last week, motorists spoke of braving the chilly weather and being there from the early hours to queue outside the centre.

They were not confident of being served by the centre which opens at 8am and closes at 4pm and can only assist 200 people a day.

In June, Akasia licence centre was burgled. Nothing was taken and two people were arrested by the police.

In the past weeks motorists were turned away from Centurion licensing centre, after a burglary. Preliminary investigations revealed that computers, eNatis screens and camera equipment had been stolen.

The burglary came a day after the Pretoria News reported that the Centurion licensing centre had been inundated with motorists from different parts of Tshwane because other licensing centres, especially Waltloo, were offline.

Closed for renovations

Waltloo licensing centre also had two burglaries in June. Equipment stolen included seven live capturing unit computer systems used for eye testing and thumb imprints, eNatis System Computers, one revenue information management system, and three of the city’s computers.

The Rayton licensing centre remains closed for renovations.

Kissoonduth said: “At this stage, unfortunately, a time frame cannot be determined due to the multitude of processes that have to be finalised, including, but not limited to, our engagement with the relevant provincial structures.

The city is working on all fronts to expedite the processes," he said. "We again wish to apologise for the inconvenience caused by these robberies.

Pretoria News

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