Why South Africa only has one driver’s licence printing machine

South Africa only has one machine that can print driving licence cards to avoid giving corrupt officials a gap to flood the country with fraudulent driver’s licences.

This is according to the spokesperson of the Automobile Association of South Africa, Layton Beard.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Beard said that even though the Department of Transport has been proactive in rooting out corruption at Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs), problems still exist.

“You don’t want to have a situation where the printing of licence cards is farmed out to the DLTCs,” stated Beard.

“You may find yourself in a worse position in terms of illegal driving license cards that are in circulation.”

Even though there is a lot of corruption at DLTCs, Beard said that’s not to say there shouldn’t be at least two machines in South Africa that process licences.

Reports that South Africa’s only driving licence printing machine had broken down first surfaced in mid-December.

The machine was reportedly damaged by an electrical short after a building adjacent to its location was flooded.

Initially, the machine was expected to be repaired by the end of December.

However, a Department of Transport spokesperson told Sunday newspaper Rapport that the 20-year-old machine was still broken.

Layton Beard, Automobile Association of South Africa spokesperson

Beard and others have warned that this will leave hundreds of thousands of South African motorists stuck with expired driving licence cards in early 2022.

According to Beard, the breakdown speaks to a broader issue.

“The process of obtaining not only driving license documents, but a raft of other documents that you need from driving license testing centres is very cumbersome,” he said.

“The system that is used as the backend of this is is old and needs to be replaced. You cannot repair it; you cannot fix it.”

Beard said the entire system must be removed and replaced in its entirety.

“When you consider the fact that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC)—which is involved in many of these DLTCs—had a surplus of R262 million in 2020, it’s not a question that the funds aren’t there,” he added.

“It’s a question of: why are we not doing this sooner rather than later?”

The AA believes this must be done as a matter of urgency, said Beard.

Wayne Duvenage
Wayne Duvenage, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse CEO

Driving licences should be valid for 10 years — Outa

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse agrees that South Africa’s archaic driver’s licensing system needs an overhaul.

In a recent 702/Cape Talk interview, Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage estimated there could be a backlog of 500,000 driver’s licence cards due to the machine’s breakdown.

Duvenage said Outa has already suggested to the transport department that South Africa switch from 5-year driving licences, to licences valid for 10 years.

“This would alleviate the current backlog overnight,” Duvenage said.

Duvenage said former transport minister Dipuo Peters approved this exact change in a government gazette in November 2012.

However, before the changes could be promulgated in October 2013, the decision was reversed.

Government and the RTMC would lose a lot of money if motorists could renew their licences less frequently. Duvenage said that’s probably why government scrapped the idea.

“That’s the wrong reason not to introduce systems. You introduce them for efficiencies,” said Duvenage.

“We give so many recommendations and input, and yet it all falls on deaf ears.”

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Why South Africa only has one driver’s licence printing machine