• Wheels24 readers have once again been battling to book online appointment slots for licence renewals.
• Motorists claim the Natis system has zero slots available in Pretoria.
• Many motorists also believe the lockdown extension for expired learner and driving licence cards between
26 March and 31 December also applies to vehicle and driving licences expired in 2021 - this is not true.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.
For a short while, the online Natis system seemed to be working again for motorists. Now, things are back to square one with zero slots available for users.
The past few weeks saw an influx of readers from Pretoria mailing in and finding themselves in a state of distress because it has once again become challenging for motorists to find any online slots not only in their areas, but most times in the entire province. When they manage to find a slot, the driving licence testing centre is so far out of their proximity that it is almost impossible to try and make it out there.
Wheels24 reader Otto Schmid has been trying to book an online slot since December and has also tried contacting the department of transport office.
Schmid says: "I live in Pretoria, but there have been no driving licence renewal slots available at Centurion and Waltloo for months on the website.
"It appears that the Waltloo and Centurion traffic departments have decided not to provide any slots for the renewal of driving licences for the past few months. This makes it very difficult for Pretoria residents to renew their licences, especially in light of Covid.
"I started monitoring the situation as of 3 December 2020 every Monday and Thursday, which is when new slots are loaded on the system at 8:00am.
"For Waltloo and Centurion no slots have been made available. On the other hand there are traffic departments where hundreds of slots are made available e.g.
Sandton, 21 Dec 2020 - 3210 slots
Midrand, 4 Jan 2021 - 732 slots
Randburg, 4 Jan - 722 slots
"So the Johannesburg residents are smiling - but not the Pretoria residents."
After several attempts, Schmid and other readers have confirmed there were zero slots available anywhere in Pretoria. To prove this, Schmid recorded his experiences of trying to book an online slot.
Next month marks an entire year since the country has been under a state of national disaster and lockdown restrictions, yet, in this time, not much has been done to improve the dire situation that is the online booking system known as Natis.
Giving the RTMC benefit of doubt, I can only imagine this reason could be an influx of motorists all suddenly wanting to try and get their driving licences renewed before the deadline will be here in the blink of an eye in August.
There are still countless readers and motorists who still believe that the extension was a blanket one for all expired vehicle licences, learner licences, and driving licence cards. This is not the case. Only those who had a learner or driving licence card which expired between 26 March and 31 December have until the 31 August 2021 to renew these licences.
If your driving licence card expired any time from 1 January 2021, there is no extension, and you will have to renew as soon as possible. While your driving licence may never expire, traffic officials could still issue fines for driving without a valid driving licence card.
It also seems the same for some motorists who have an issue with renewing vehicle licences:
Wheels24 reader Matshidiso Tabane recently wrote in and said: "I live in Hebron, in the North West so to renew my vehicle licence I have to use a Post Office closer to me which provides for that service in Klipgat and Lethlabile, or Brits Traffic department. Recently I booked a day off from work and drove to Brits to find the centre was closed. Security informed me that they would open in February. I called Klipgat, and the lady said their system is not yet online. Lethlabile is more than 40km away, and when I called their number, it was not working. As an NW resident, I can't renew in Gauteng as that's what GP traffic departments have advised us.
"The question is when will the government and his MECs of transport going to consider the integration of the transport department provinces' systems to be able to renew in any Province as long one has proper documentation?
"What will happen as failure to renew my vehicle licence is not on my account, and at the fault of the department of transport system due to closure of the Brits office if my grace period passes. We are faced with these challenges, and I will be forced to drive my car with an expired vehicle licence - and then be fined for doing so.
"I believe I am not the only one who is encountering this problem as I saw many other people turned away at the Brits traffic department. By the way, I drove from Hebron, passed Garankuwa, Makau, De Wilt, and to Brits, which is only 25 to 30km.
"It is not even guaranteed that their system will be up and running without failure this month.
"Also, we are near the Mabopane traffic department, which is less than 6km; however, we are not allowed to use it. Hebron is between Mabopane and Garankuwa. And, Mabopane falls within Gauteng Province; hence we cannot renew our disc there.
"What are we to do?"
In all honesty, I doubt the RTMC or government will do anything meaningful anytime soon to fix the Natis system for those who are battling, or even try to streamline the problematic process since there are so many other pressing matters at hand. And, sadly, motorists will continue to battle, and become easy targets for traffic officials when they're only trying to be law-abiding citizens.
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