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Government must not start a war with citizens, warns Outa

Advocacy group calls for a deadline extension on expired driving licences

29 March 2022 - 14:07
The grace period for expired driving licence cards expires this Friday. File photo.
The grace period for expired driving licence cards expires this Friday. File photo.
Image: Jacques Stander/Gallo Images

An estimated 1-million drivers could on Friday potentially become the target of “overzealous” traffic police seeking a quick bribe.

Civil society advocacy group Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday called for an extension to the driver’s licence renewal deadline or the validity of driver’s licence cards. This is after the group calculated that there would be well over one million motorists with expired driver’s licence cards on the roads on Friday.

“The public’s inability to comply with the regulations is largely due to the department’s incompetence and the public shouldn’t be punished for it,” said Outa’s accountability division head advocate Stefanie Fick.

“Government should not start a war with citizens that it can’t win. Outa is considering a legal opinion that may lead to another civil disobedience campaign,” she warned.

“Last week, Outa wrote to the minister of transport to consider a further extension of the deadline.

“Should the minister not wish to extend the driver’s licence renewal deadline or the validity of driver’s licence cards, Outa proposes that law enforcement agencies be instructed to not issue fines for motorists whose driver’s licences cards have expired in the past 12 months, as this may lead to unlawful enforcement.”

Fick said this was a significant problem that should be handled properly by the government.

“The state cannot simply ignore this problem, as it will 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,” warned Fick. 

“Administrative difficulties and significant backlogs in the renewal process of driver’s licence cards have been the order of the day long before the arrival of the pandemic or the breakdown of the card printing machine at the end of 2021. These problems are largely due to difficulties in securing bookings through the online booking system forced onto motorists.”  

She said Outa was waiting for transport minister Fikile Mbalula to respond to its request for “a meaningful solution” to the expired driver’s licence issue.

TimesLIVE has contacted Mbalula for his response to the latest development, which will be added to this article once it is received.

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