Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced the deadline for the grace period for renewing licences will be extended from 31 August 2021 to 31 March 2022.
“To give motorists a fair opportunity to renew their licences, while we are rolling out a number of measures to improve efficiencies and resolve challenges, we have decided to extend further the grace period for the renewal of licences,” Mbalula stated.
All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 are deemed to be valid, and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on 31 March 2022.
“This extension comes into effect from the date of publication of the Directions in the Government Gazette,” the minister said.
Motorists have struggled to secure renewal appointments for their licence cards at Drivers Licence Testing Centres due to a substantial backlog worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation previously acknowledged a significant backlog of 500,000 renewal applications.
Mbalula said that a total of 1.2 million expired licences still had to be renewed, most of which were in Gauteng.
The minister blamed corrupt officials and faulty equipment for the backlog.
Mbabula’s announcement comes after calls from civil action organisation Outa to extend the grace period after it received complaints from many frustrated motorists about the booking process.
Outa welcomed the extension but asked why the government had left the issue and “so-called interventions” until the 11th hour.
“Civil society has been complaining about the chaos, inefficiencies, attitudes from staff, broken tech and corruption for years, especially in Gauteng,” Outa said.
The Democratic Alliance has made many proposals to fix the process, including scrapping the online booking system and allowing motorists to do walk-in renewals.