South Africa: DA Demands Validity of Vehicle Licences to Be Extended

press release

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received volumes of complaints relating to the registration of vehicles that couldn't be finalised before the deadline. The validity of two categories of licencing, pertaining to person and trade, have been extended but not that of vehicles.

This is causing huge disruption in most provinces with many more people now needing to move around, yet risk being faced with huge fines because they wanted but couldn't renew vehicle registrations. Many offices were constantly understaffed during previous levels of the lockdown, and many hardly functioned during the time when it was possible to renew vehicle licences.

Three categories of licencing are at stake, two of which's validity has been extended to 30 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 respectively but not that of general vehicles. Long queues and rows of people had to return daily because offices did not function optimally. Staff were affected by Covid-19 with some offices that hardly opened. There were also issues with the eNatis system which had to be activated on a phased-in approach after everything was shut down during the earlier stages of lockdown.

The gazette which was released in July stated that the validity of:

Learner's licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired during the period from 26 March up to 31 August was extended until 31 January 2021;

Vehicle trade number licences that expired during the period from 26 March to 31 May was extended to 30 November, whereas

Vehicle licence discs, temporary permits and roadworthy certificates that expired between 26 March 31 May lapsed on 31 August with no further extended validity apart from the normal 21 days grace period after expiry.

Similar to the normal situation where one would have 21-days grace to renew a vehicle licence when it expired before the global pandemic, owners now had 90 days from 1 June to have it renewed - but this clearly was not enough given the complexities at traffic offices and that very few operated at full capacity. As such it is unclear why the three categories of licencing was differentiated like this. What should have happened is that validity periods for all categories should have been treated the same.

It is also clear that the Department has not monitored the volumes of registrations to check the capacity of offices. Now that the validity expiry is upon everyone who wanted but could not renew fines and penalties will come in force amidst very unfair conditions.

Civic complaints, which range from individual personal use vehicles to big fleet owners, businesses, construction, agriculture and rental companies reported that many offices offered daily limited transactions which caused frustration, extended lines and a loss of time.

We will write to Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula today to request that the licence category of vehicle registrations be extended to 31 January 2021, similar to the grace period extensions of the other two classes and that law enforcement should exploit the current abnormal situation, instead passes should be handed out for everyone spending time in a queue but who wasn't attended to as proof of their intent to adhere and comply.

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