Driving with J9: Why vehicle licences should also be extended until January 2021


• Vehicle licences do not have an extended grace period to January 2021.
• Vehicle licences which have expired during lockdown or thereafter, have until 31 August to renew.
• Don't wait until the last minute to renew.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za

All learners licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired from 26 March up to 31 August 2020 are extended to 31 January 2021.

This is a massive relief for many South African motorists.

However, I am still finding it difficult to explain to many Wheels24 readers that vehicle licences which have expired during the same period will still only be valid until the end of August 2020. Yes, that means you only have less than a month to renew your vehicle licence. 

And, since most people would likely wait until the very last minute, there's going to be even longer queues to get this done during August. The backlog has not subsided, and trying to renew your licence during this time will prove difficult. The Covid-19 death toll has surpassed 8000 locally this weekend, and also tallied over 500 000 positive cases in SA. The ill and elderly are still high-risk candidates and many fear for their lives, so stepping into a vehicle licence centre to renew their documents are still out of the question. 

READ | Driving with J9: What you need to know about the new licence renewal extensions

There are no individual queues for the elderly or those who suffer from other morbidities. 

I received a letter from a Wheels24 reader who is stuck in Canada. His letter broke my heart, but it's a familiar tale of dozens of emails I receive daily. It's just one letter, but it speaks the troubles of many South Africans, and this alone is just one reason why vehicle licences should also be extended to the end of January. 

If your vehicle licence has expired before the national lockdown was implemented on 26 March, you will not be eligible for the licence extension at the end of August. Image: Wheels24

Although drivers and learners licences have been extended to end of January next year, vehicle licences are only valid until 31 August. Dale Walden raises some valid points, and his message hits home for many.

Waldon writes: "Please can you give me some advice as I am in a complete state.  "I am currently stuck in Calgary, Canada – I was supposed to fly back to South Africa on 24 March, and of course all flights have been cancelled. So I have been stuck here ever since despite being registered with the SA Embassy as a stranded citizen. But this is not about me.

"I have very elderly parents in SA; Dad is 89 and Mom is 85 who live out in the North West. Normally, I am there based in Joburg, and I help with their admin. They are being conscientious and only going to the shops once a week for groceries and nowhere else, which is good. I phone them every day to say 'Hi' and check upon them. 

"Earlier this week, when I phoned Mom said that they had gone into Brits to the licence renewal place to see if they could join the queue to renew her licence which expires 4 October. 

"I nearly had a flipping heart attack. They are elderly, and their risk of contracting Covid-19 in a public place is enormous, and at that age – the prognosis might be terrible if they do catch it. 

"I told Mom that under no circumstances are they to go anywhere near any place like that. But she is terrified of being fined or having her licence expire. They always like to do it at least several weeks before it expires. 

"But these are not normal times. I told her that it is not a big thing if it expires, she'll just have to pay a bit more when the time comes."

Despite third party services which could assist Mr Waldon's parents, there are so many people who don't have any relatives to help, or who are hardly tech-savvy to find an alternative solution. I hope Mr Waldon will be able to return home soon.

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Janine Van der Post is the first female editor at Wheels24. If you have any queries, you can email her here. 
Image: Calvin Fisher

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