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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


AfriForum to challenge driver’s licence renewal ‘circus’ in high court

The constant breakdown of country's only licence printing machine among reasons why AfriForum is challenging five-year renewals mandate.


With the news that the country’s only licence printing equipment is broken again, AfriForum has again put the spotlight on their call for a reassessment — or the total scrapping — of renewing one’s driver’s licence card every five years.

Following the filing of a lawsuit in 2022 challenging the renewal of driver’s licences, AfriForum will appear in the Pretoria High Court on August 7 and 8.

AfriForum: ‘Reassess/ scrap driving licence renewal mandate’

The civil rights organisation applied to oppose the mandate that driver’s licence cards be renewed every five years and to call for a reassessment of this obligation or the total scrapping of this mandate.

AfriForum’s campaign officer for strategy and content, Ernst van Zyl, said the constant breakdown of the country’s only licence printing machine was among the reasons to challenge the renewals.

“[Municipal] traffic departments’ ongoing administrative problems, delays, and poor administration, as well as the country’s only licence printing equipment that is constantly breaking down and creating significant backlogs gives us reason to challenge.

“The Department of Transport’s well-known failures make it impossible and irrational to require motorists to renew their driver’s licence cards every five years.

ALSO READ: No driver’s licence card backlog, says Transport Dept after old printing machine breaks down

SA vs other countries’ renewal periods

“In addition, many other countries allow much longer periods between driver’s licence card renewals and in some countries, driver’s licences are valid indefinitely,” Van Zyl said.

“The application also requests a declaratory order that motorists may not be penalised or fined if they do not have a renewed licence card,” he added.

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Broken machine: Grant period for expired licence cards?

Van Zyl said the government should grant a grace period for those with expired licence cards because of the recent breaking down of the printing machine.

“People are now again victims of the government’s poor planning.

“This inept government doesn’t even have the foresight to invest in a second printing machine for licence cards.

“These and other aggravating circumstances are precisely why AfriForum is once again standing up for the public in August to save motorists from this circus,” Van Zyl added.

AfriForum: ‘Strong legal and practical grounds’ for court challenge

According to Van Zyl, AfriForum believes it has strong legal and practical justifications for its application to be granted by the courts.

“From a legal perspective, the National Road Traffic Act and regulations are too vague to be workable.

“The legislation does not clearly distinguish between a driver’s licence and a “driver’s licence card”.

He said, the act was not clear-cut and did not state that motorists had to apply for new licence cards upon expiry.

“It does not even state that it is a crime to drive with an expired licence card nor prescribe any fines, penalties or sanctions.

“The regulation does not specify expectations concisely, clearly, or internally consistently enough for the general people to know what is expected of them. Additionally, if the government is unable to properly identify the legislation that is being broken, it cannot prosecute members of the public,” Van Zyl said.

ALSO READ: AfriForum loses appeal as court upholds ruling that apartheid flag is hate speech

Turning point

If AfriForum succeeds in its legal action, it will result in a turning point.

“This would mean that the government has unlawfully punished the public for more than 20 years,” Van Zyl remarked.

Rekord previously reported that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) was looking into possible changes to the renewal time-frames commissioned by the Minister of Transport.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said “the research has been done as requested by the minister. Further decisions will be taken and communicated by the ministry”.

Edited by Cornelia le Roux.
This article originally appeared in Pretoria Rekord and was republished with permission. Read the original article here.