Ekurhuleni motorists, who pay thousands of rand every month in car insurance, could find their claims repudiated if they don’t have a valid driver’s licence.

Hundreds of motorists in the municipal area have taken to social media to complain that many of the licence renewal centres, specifically Kempton Park, Alberton, Bedfordview, Springs, Edenvale and Etwatwa, are almost always closed, or people get turned away.

Motorists daily are either turned away from the centres, or find official notices at the gate saying they are offline. Often, they wait for hours in queues before being turned away.

They claim that the Bedfordview centre, especially, often says it is offline while staff are, in fact, attending to people inside.

Motorists also accuse the staff of being extremely rude to them.

The SA Insurance Association’s Zakes Sondiyazi said each case would be treated on its own merits, but ideally, an expired driving licence was not sufficient reason for an insurer to repudiate a claim.

“It nevertheless remains an offence to drive with an expired licence, and you are at risk of a traffic fine if you do so. However, vehicle claims could be invalid if there is sufficient proof that a driving licence was issued illegally and is therefore invalid. The onus would rest with the insured/driver/ employer to prove that everything possible had been done to ensure the licence was valid,” he said.

An insurance broker, Or- lando Bernardes, said insurance companies could reject a claim if the driver didn’t have a current licence.

“If an accident occurs after 30 days of the expiry of the old licence, the companies have the right to repudiate claims. The driver, I don’t know how, would have to prove that he or she has attempted to renew the licence and that the fault lies with the licensing authorities,” he said.

The blame game has now started, with the City of Ekurhuleni blaming the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) for the glitches and delays, and the corporation, in turn, blaming the municipality.

Motorists are asking what they are supposed to do.

There are numerous complaints on the Bedfordview Facebook group page.

Local councillors are dealing daily with complaints.

Councillor William Rundle said there appeared to be no resolution to the problem.

“The endless lines and centres not opening is causing havoc,” he said.

The RTMC, however, says it isn’t to blame.

Spokesperson Simon Zwane said he could assure motorists that the problems were not related to the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).

Another councillor, Jill Humphreys, said the department had seen it fit to introduce a new traffic information program that was not working well and frequently resulted in a shutdown.

“The officials at the Bedfordview station are already extremely hard-pressed to cope as there are only three cashiers. “This facility is too small - it was originally built to serve a smaller local community - and is in desperate need of expansion.

“Tempers are short on both sides - furious members of the public and officials trying to cope with inadequate resources,” she said.

Humphreys said she had asked for an expansion of this facility for the past two years on her integrated development plan budget.

“I see it is now being planned for 2018,” she said, adding that the new program should be rescinded until the technical glitches had been ironed out. The City of Ekurhuleni admitted that some of its driving licence testing centres were currently off-line due to “technical glitches experienced nationally by eNatis”.

Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe said the city had logged a call concerning intermittent system fault with the RTMC, and technicians were “working tirelessly to restore the system”.

He said customers should visit the Edenvale, Germiston, Nigel, Brakpan and Benoni centres for assistance.

“However, we need to hear more from the RTMC because we are affected as a result of technical glitches from eNatis. The City of Ekurhuleni apologises for the inconvenience this has caused,” Gadebe added.

On the Basically Bedfordview Facebook site, the Bedfordview licensing department responded publicly to complaints, saying applicants start queuing from 6.30am.

The statement said: “By 08h00, when we open the gates, there are already a lot of people queuing. By the time they get to the eye test machine, they are already exhausted.

“The examiners explain to the applicants what to do while conducting the eye test. The applicant is supposed to press the forehead against the eye test machine. If they remove their forehead, the machine switches off and must be rebooted. A lot of applicants struggle to see on this new machine and need to be referred to an optometrist for an eye test certificate.

“The testing officers need to explain over and over again what to do, which is causing the applicant to be frustrated and accusing the testing officer of being rude.

“We reminded all staff members to wear their name tags at all times.”