Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
3 minute read
6 Apr 2022
5:15 am

15-day grace period for driving licences ‘not enough’

Marizka Coetzer

The Automobile Association said the only practical solution was for the government to further extend the renewal period.

Niekie van Heerden and his elderly father Koos waiting in line at the Waltloo Licensing department to renew their driver's license, 5 April 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The grace period extension to 15 April for the validity of driving licences that expired between 26 March, 2020 and 31 August, 2021 was simply not enough for motorists who have been struggling for months
to get their licences renewed.

So said Democratic Alliance spokesperson for roads and transport in Gauteng Fred Nel.

He said the department made headway during March with about 150 000 renewals but due to strikes at some centres there was now a backlog of around 273 000.

“Thus we will need around another six months to eradicate the backlog, as we also have to deal with current expirations,” Nel said.

Hendriette Hendricks said she was now waiting for her licence card after renewing her licence in February.

“They told me on 22 February it would take two weeks, and I have been waiting since,” she said.

Hendricks said the initial booking was easy.

“At my appointment, there was only one person available to help us and when it was eventually my turn, the system was offline,” she explained.

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Hendricks said it went downhill from there.

“They gave me the wrong papers to fill in, processed me as a truck driver, and wanted a medical from me. I had to redo the whole process,” she said.

At the Watloo Licence Centre in Pretoria East, Niekie van Heerden and his elderly father Koos patiently sat in the queue to renew their licence cards.

Van Heerden said he struggled for four months to get a booking for himself and his father on the online Natis system and had to pay a private company to secure a booking to renew their licences.

The father and son usually renewed their licences together and they said it went much faster five years ago when they renewed their licences at the Centurion Licence Centre in under 15 minutes.

The Stroop couple decided to leave after not being able to update their address for their licences.

“We came to change our address and were told to sit in the line, later sit there and still nothing,” Christiaan Stoop said.

Stoop said he was told to go to a different department four times.

“And to think we came here, to be honest, and to update our information,” he said.

Hannelie Hunt said she has had her fair share with the licensing centre.

“It took 10 months to get my renewed licence card after I waited four months for the appointment,” Hunt said.

Hunt and her son visited the centre to book for his learner licence test.

“At least that went smoothly, we will come back later this week,” she said.

Hunt also made use of a private company to secure the booking.

The Automobile Association said the only practical solution was for the government to further extend the renewal period.

“Failing this, motorists will, unfortunately, decide to drive illegally as they still must remain mobile, whatever the consequences. This is a situation that suits no one in the country,” Hunt said.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za