Fikile Mbalula says learner's licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire before December 31 2020 are now valid until August 31 2021. Picture: REUTERS
Fikile Mbalula says learner's licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire before December 31 2020 are now valid until August 31 2021. Picture: REUTERS

The minister of transport has extended the grace period to renew expired driving licences until August 31 2021, due to bottlenecks caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.

On December 3 Fikile Mbalula gazetted an amendment to the lockdown regulations stating that all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expire between March 26 and December 31 2020 are deemed to be valid, and their validity periods have been extended until August 31 2021.

Initially the grace period had been extended to January 31 2021, but the further seven-month grace period was implemented after a continued backlog of licence renewals. Many people have struggled to renew their expired licences, either on Gauteng’s online booking system https://online.natis.gov.za or in walk-in bookings in other provinces.

The extension will not apply to licences that expire from January 1 2021, and motorists are urged to apply for a new card several weeks before it actually expires.

The extension also does not apply to vehicle licences. If the licence disc expired before or during lockdown, penalties will apply when you renew it.

The AA welcomed the move by the government but said it is the opportune time to consider the previous suggestions of extending the validity of driving licence cards from the current five years to 10 years.

While the extension is good news for many, the AA says motorists must not wait until next year before renewing their cards and discs.

“Even though there is a long way to go to the end of August 2021, motorists should continue trying to renew their cards and discs, and attempt to remain legally on the road. The extension should not be seen as an opportunity to get away with non-renewals; leaving it too late will eventually catch up with them,” the association said.

In November Mbalula made an unannounced visit to Themba Driving Licence Testing Centre (DLTC) in Hammanskraal, after outrage from drivers and vehicle owners who were frustrated at the backlog in the online booking system.

The minister acknowledged the challenge of corruption at DLTCs nationwide and committed himself to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. On November 12 he announced the following interventions to ease the backlog:

• 70% of capacity, human resources and equipment at DLTCs  will be dedicated to dealing with expired driving licence card renewals and professional driving permits (PDPs);

• 70% of slots on the online booking system will be dedicated to expired driving licence cards and professional driving permits (PDPs);

• Two satellite centres will be opened at the RTMC offices in Centurion and Midrand;

• A task team has been established to advise the Gauteng department of transport on the procurement of mobile centres;

• An operations centre will be opened to monitor daily operations at DLTCs and evaluate the availability of booking slots;

• Extended operational hours will be introduced, with centres opening from Monday to Sunday; and

• All DLTCs falling under the Tshwane Metro will open from 6am, starting in December.

These interventions will remain in force until the backlog is cleared.

Anyone with information on fraud and corruption at driving licence testing centres can report such activities to 0861 400 800.

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