SA's driving licence card printer 'in Germany' while you're forced to drive with expired card

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South African driving licence
South African driving licence
Safely Home by Western Cape Government
  • Reports suggest that South Africa's sole driving licence printing machine is in Europe undergoing repairs.
  • OUTA's Wayne Duvenage says officials knew the machine was broken in November last year, yet it's only in Germany now.
  • Department of Transport has not responded to Wheels24's queries on this matter.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

According to South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, you won't be able to get your hands on your new driving licence card or your replacement one, or any driving licence card, for that matter, as the one machine that is used to print these items is now in Germany awaiting repairs.

A report that broke this week quoted Mbalula saying: "The license machine is in Germany, it has broken. I am going to be announcing temporary measures with regards to temporary license but I am moving ahead with the new driving license cards which I will announce in public."

READ: OPINION | Mbalula wants to roll out disastrous online licence system across SA, but it won't work

Fikile Mbalula
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

The antiquated system needs updating

The same printing system that was implemented in South Africa for driving licence cards back in the late 1990s is being used today. Over the past decades, only one of the printing machines has managed to survive, but that machine is now on life support and is allegedly with its manufacturer in Germany for critical repairs.

Wheels24 reached out to the Department of Transport on several occasions to find out more about the printer's location and when it will be operational again, but the department has not responded.

READ: OPINION | SA's driving licence card machine has crashed - Major problems for motorists

OUTA's Wayne Duvenage, however, talked to us today about how the antiquated driving licence card printing system used in South Africa is hampering economic growth and putting South Africans under unnecessary pressure both as private motorists and professional drivers.

Duvenage expounds: "If you know you only have one driving licence card printing machine and that the country is reliant on that machine, surely, you must have a plan to keep that machine operational! The department seems to have no strategy with regards to maintenance for this machine. It would take two days to airfreight the device to its supplier. The department can put pressure on the supplier to fix it as it's a critical device for South Africa.

"They [the department] discovered that the machine was not operational in November last year. Why are we only hearing now that the printer is in Germany for repairs? The department is doing a poor job when it comes to updating South Africans on this critical matter."

Mass confusion for everyone

Duvenage discussed the stress and dilemmas South Africans are going through to obtain a driving licence card. "Motorists are being forced to drive around with expired driving licence cards because they can't keep taking days off work to go back and forth to the department," he notes. The Department of Transport extended its grace period for driving licence cards that expired in the lockdown last year, ending at the end of March 2022.

Duvenage adds: "If you are applying for a new driving licence card, you won't be able to get one any time soon, as you'll be asked to pay for a temporary licence until your card is ready. Until the Department of Transport gets back to us with official information on when the driving licence printing card is up and running again, we will all remain in the dark, including law enforcement officials who are heavily confused when it comes to pulling motorists over at roadblocks."

"The police are trying to do their job, and we must applaud them, but they are now pulling over motorists with expired cards, and they simply aren't sure if these cards are still valid under grace periods. The lack of communication from the department on this matter is alarming, and we hope that the minister announces the new card system that he has alluded to on several occasions soon," Duvenage concludes.

READ: Licensing department officials get fat salaries, but card machine is still broken

Wheels24 will update you on this developing story as soon as the Department of Transport responds with an official statement on the printer's location and when South Africa can expect the printing of driving licence cards to resume.

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