Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced a “final” extension of the driver’s licence renewal grace period.
Speaking during the launch of the Easter road safety campaign on Tuesday (12 April), Mbalula said affected motorists now have until 5 May 2022.
“We continue to urge those whose driving licence cards expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 to renew their licence. The end of the state of disaster means we can no longer issue directions that extend further the grace period,” Mbalula said.
“The final opportunity is provided by the current regulations which extend the grace period by 30 days from date of the end of the state of disaster. This means affected motorists have until 5 May 2022 to renew their expired driving licence cards.”
The announcement means that all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving licence permits that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 will be deemed valid until 5 May 2022.
The previous deadline was 15 April 2022, which the Minister gazetted at the end of March. However, advocacy groups such as the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) called for more time.
“We urge the Minister to engage with civil society and other stakeholders to address the impediments and design flaws that still exist within the online booking system,” OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage said at the time.
“We furthermore urge the minister to make a decision on increasing the driver’s licence validity period from five to 10 years, which is common international practice and will go a long way to improving efficiency within government. The public should not have to go through this renewal process every five years.”
Driver’s licence renewals have been hampered by a massive backlog, which the Department of Transport has vowed to clear by September this year. It also pledged to clear the “bottleneck” experienced between November 2021 and January 2022 in April.
OUTA has blamed the “incompetence, mismanagement and corruption in the Department of Transport” for the crisis, adding that Mbalula has “presided over these problems since May 2019.”
“The driver’s licence renewal process has been in shambles for quite some time, and we patiently waited for government to sort out the mess they created. Many motorists were unable to renew their licence cards through no fault of their own,” OUTA Executive Director Advocate Stefanie Fick said earlier this month.
OUTA also urged motorists to ensure that they have their driver’s licence cards with them when driving, even if they have expired. Those who have started the renewal process should keep all receipts and the temporary licence on them.