Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
12 Jan 2022
11:03 am

Mbalula cooking up a plan to deal with broken driver’s licence machine

Molefe Seeletsa

The machine, which is used to print driver's licence cards, is currently being repaired in Germany.

A South African ID book and drivers licence. Picture: Gallo Images/Nicolene Olckers

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is expected to announce temporary measures for motorists whose driver’s licences expired during lockdown.

Questions had been raised on whether there would be another extension beyond the March 2022 deadline following the breakdown of the card production machine.

‘Old machine’

The machine, which is used to print driver’s licence cards, has been out of service since November last year because of the damage caused to it as a result of flooding.

This means the Department of Transport has not issued any driver’s licenses across the country in more than a month.

However, the machine is currently being repaired in Germany, according to Mbalula.

Mbalula confirmed the news at the launch of the disbursement of Covid-19 relief funds for taxi operators on Tuesday.

“The machine that produces driver’s licences is a old machine… it comes from Germany. No other country in the world is still using that machine [and] that is why we are producing a new card.

“It’s gonna be a new card [and] a new machine, which is at par with the developed world. We should have changed this [machine], but nonetheless we are changing it,” he said a media briefing.

The minister further explained: “Whilst we were [trying to get rid of] the machine, it got an accident and [then] there’s Covid-19 [because] the machine [has] to be repaired in Germany. [But] it is being fixed as we speak… we have already shipped it to Germany.”

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Mbalula also said that he will be announcing temporary measures soon.

“In the interim, we will introduce new measures of what will actually happen, but over and above that [we will] introduce a new card that doesn’t need to go to Germany to be fixed there,” he said.

The minister once again pointed out that the plan to introduce a new driver’s licence card would be submitted to Cabinet.

“I am supposed to go to Cabinet. When Cabinet sits this year, I will present the new machine. [We are] done with the security features [of the machine]. Once Cabinet approves that, new machines are going to come.

“So we are dealing with that. We are far advanced, it’s just that the accident that happened on the machine caught us napping whilst we are dealing with new card,” Mbalula added.

He indicated last year that the new card would be sent to Cabinet for approval early in 2022.

Driving Licence Card Account’s (DLCA’s) Maputla Makgatho previously stated that the machine is more than 20-years-old and the Department of Transport will start issuing a tender to procure a new machine during the 2020/2021 financial year.

Backlog

As of 1 December, there was a backlog of 383,000 licence cards due to the machine breakdown.

Mbalula previously indicated that there were about 1.2 million, out of a total 2.8 million, expired licences that were due for renewal.

This was when he announced the extension for license renewals in August last year.

The minister confirmed that the validity of licences that expired between 26 March and 31 August 2021 would now be extended to 31 March 2022.

READ MORE: Driving licence renewal fees a confusing ‘money-making racket

But driver’s licences that expired after 1 September and have not yet been renewed means the motorist could be fined.

The machine breakdown, meanwhile, has led to calls for another extension of the grace period for driver’s licence renewals.

Additional reporting by Moneyweb