Motorists with expired licences may be given an 11th-hour reprieve
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula to provide an update on Thursday
The deadline for expired driving licences may be extended beyond March 31, with transport minister Fikile Mbalula due to give a briefing on the issue on Thursday morning.
In August it was announced all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between March 26 2020 and August 31 2021 were valid until the end of March.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the Automobile Association (AA) have lobbied to extend the deadline due to a backlog of motorists unable to renew their licence cards in time, but Mbalula has stood firm, saying the grace period would end on March 31.
However, on Wednesday afternoon he hinted the grace period might be extended by tweeting: “Tomorrow, March 31 2022, we will give an update on the deadline for the extension of licence validity. In August 2021, the transport department announced the extension of a grace period ending March 31 2022. This approaches an end tomorrow.”
Mbalula has ignored previous calls to extend the deadline despite recent protests at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) causing delays.
Last week the transport department said it was on track with the production of outstanding licence cards, and the bottleneck experienced between November 2021 and January 2022 due to a broken printing machine would be cleared by April.
UPDATE ON LICENCE RENEWALS: Tomorrow, 31 March 2022, we will give an update on the deadline for the Extension of Licence Validity.— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) March 30, 2022
On August 2021, the Dep of Transport announced the extension of a grace period ending on 31 March 22, this approaches an end tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/twekyT9EWO
Earlier this week Outa warned government should either extend the deadline or stop issuing fines to motorists with expired licences lest it “start a war with citizens that it cannot win”.
Outa estimated there would more than 1-million motorists with expired driving licence cards after March 31.
The civil action organisation said it would leave motorists “at the mercy of overzealous or corrupt law-enforcement officers who may use this as an opportunity to extort bribes from the motoring public”.
On Thursday the AA added to the call for a deadline extension, saying a crisis was looming with hundreds of thousands of drivers who have still not applied for their new cards.
“Given the recent problems with the production of driving licence cards, and issues around DLTCs and online booking systems, we believe it’s unrealistic to expect this enormous backlog will be cleared by tomorrow. This leaves hundreds of thousands of drivers without the necessary documents to legally be on the road,” the AA said.