Frustrated motorists fear fines as they miss licence renewal deadline
Some motorists who could not renew their driving licences on deadline day are worried that they will get fines as of Friday.
One who was turned away while trying to renew her licence fears driving without one will have negative consequences.
Ntando Mkhize from Randburg visited the Randburg licensing department on Thursday morning, hoping she would leave with her driving licence or at least a temporary one but that was not the case as she was turned away.
“I arrived here early in the morning and there was no queue. They told me that they were only helping people who had booked online. If you hadn't booked they just turned you away,” she said.
Mkhize said she had on several occasions tried to book for her renewal on the online platform without success.
Though the queue wasn’t long at the centre, motorists complained they couldn’t renew their licences as the system wasn't working.
Hein Kock, who booked online, was initially excited that he would go home with his licence but soon learnt that the system was not working.
“They are telling me that they can’t process payment today and I must come back tomorrow,” he said.
Thursday was the last day of the grace period for the renewal of driving licences that expired at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic between March 26 and August 21 last year.
A driver by profession, Steven Ramahala travelled from Diepsloot to Randburg and was hoping to renew his licence, only to be turned away since he didn’t book.
“It is going to be a problem because my job requires me to drive and my licence expired during Covid-19,” he said.
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesperson Simon Zwane advised those who were turned away to try Waterfall and Eco-Park licencing centres, saying they were operational for seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. He said the centres would not turn motorists away if they did not have a booking.
Zwane said the minister, Fikile Mbalula, categorically stated that there will be no further grace period since the deadline had been extended five times.
“Those who drive with expired licences beyond this period will be in contravention of the law. Online bookings in Gauteng have been in operation since 2018 and motorists are advised to book and show up on the stipulated date,” he said.
He advised that the centres will be working extra hours this month to assist those who want to make last-minute arrangements to apply.
“But those whose licence cards expired between March 2020 and August 2021 will now have to obtain temporary driving licences to enable them to drive while waiting for their licence cards to be printed,” he said.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said it remained to be seen if all those motorists with expired licence would be able to renew them before the deadline.
“Let’s say by tomorrow there are still 7,500 motorists driving without the renewed licence, what will happen to them?” he asked.
According to Duvenage, not extending the deadline further may be the best strategy by the government, but he believes they must ask enforcement agencies to be mindful and go easy on motorists.
“The online booking happened long before Covid-19 but the process has been inefficient,” he said.
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