Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has warned that his department will not extend the grace period for motoring licences in South Africa beyond 31 March.
The minister said that motorists who continue to drive with expired licences past this date will face fines and possible prosecution.
In a media briefing on Monday (7 March), Mbalula said that the country currently has a backlog of more than 500,000 licences, but that licencing centres have enough capacity to address the shortfall and that slots are available to book for renewals.
The national Covid-19 lockdown imposed on the country in 2020 and 2021 forced licencing centres to close, resulting in a massive backlog of expired vehicle and driving licences.
This was compounded after the country’s only licence printing machine broke down at the end of 2021, leaving approximately half a million South African motorists stuck with expired driving licence cards.
Mbalula had previously extended expired licences to 31 March 2022 due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which meant motorists could not visit licensing centres. This grace period covered all documents which expired in the period between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021.
Mbalula also addressed the closure of several licence centres across Gauteng following violent protests around the new electronic system.
Protests have flared up due to recent changes made by the Gauteng Provincial Government to driver’s license and testing booking system which blocks third parties from booking services on behalf of individuals or groups.
The province-wide protest action is an attempt by the affected groups of runners and individuals who benefited from the previous practice to get the Gauteng Provincial Government to heed to their demands.
Mbalula said the government was addressing these issues and that the Gauteng government would issue a proclamation later today ordering all centres to open. “The rule of law must prevail,” he said.