'How can this be right?' - Readers speak out about the licence renewal dilemma

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Motorists queue outside the Randburg Driving Licence Testing Centre.
Motorists queue outside the Randburg Driving Licence Testing Centre.
Mrs Simpson

• Motorists continue to face challenges renewing vehicle and driving licences.
• Offices close, or are offline with no communication to motorists.
• There is no extension for any licences expiring from January 2021.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.

Earlier this week, we raised the issue of the ongoing battle motorists still face on a daily basis in trying to renew their vehicle and driving licences.

Even those who have a bit of exemption with lockdown expired licences, and are trying to renew before the August deadline will be upon us, can not get an online slot in Gauteng. Licencing centres continue to close without notice to the public due to staff being infected by Covid-19.

I have contacted provincial and the national Department of Transport, and yet, no one has responded to any questions.

The Natis online system remains problematic for most, offices continue to close or be offline, and queues are long. How can trying to the right thing, by being law-abiding citizens wanting to be on the road legally, be such an epic failure with no solution lingering in the horizon? 

Wheels24 readers have shared even more stories of their struggles to renew their vehicle and driving licence card renewals. In a bid to raise more awareness in the challenges motorists face, here's what they have to say:

Wheels24 reader Michael Strydom, who has still been getting error messages up until this week on the RTMC's eNatis system writes: 

"According to an article, DLTC's would be open through the festive season."However, after making a learner's booking in Bronkhorstspruit (within which you have three days to pay and confirm your booking), and driving all the way there, the centre was closed with zero communication available.

"We also received confirmation from security at Kagiso DLTC that it was also closed until 4 January. (There is nowhere that you can find this information on the web.)

"Communication gets 0/10, plus the useless principle of accepting bookings that simply cannot be confirmed.

"Upon trying to make the next booking, the Natis online system had a pop-up message saying that all bookings made between Christmas and New Year would have their availability extended and users will be afforded 14 days within which to confirm said booking.

"On Saturday, 9 January, we drove back to Bronkhorstspruit (from Pretoria) to confirm the booking. The people at the DLTC then informed us that they are aware of the pop-up message and that they've been sending people away for the entire week, because the system automatically cancels the booking after three days, so the pop-up cannot be adhered to.

"13 January, we attempted our third drive to Bronkhorstspruit to confirm a new booking made on Sunday. Upon getting there, it is once again closed, with the security informing us that the offices are on strike until further notice.

"This is costing so much money, effort, and leave days."

Michael has since shared again: "This whole week there have been zero slots available for Learners bookings, since Friday, a few have opened, however, you can select any slot, and then you get this error:

natis online, licence
Gauteng motorists have been getting this error message on the Natis online system and are unable to book driving licence renewal appointments.

"I emailed the email address that pops on when opening the page on Friday, still unsuccessful. We have simply been unable to obtain a Learners booking for the past three weeks, upon attempting daily, all day."

Valerie Hurwitz writes: "I moved to the USA in December 2019. My driving licence card expired in October 2020. I found out that there is no way that I can renew my licence card in the US as I need my SA licence to get my new American licence. With technology today, this is unbelievable. 

"News24 also made me aware in a former article that, according to law, the driving licence actually never expires; it is only the licence card that expires. 

South Africa needs to find an online solution for the local problem and cater to South Africans abroad who need their licences renewed.

Anne-Marie writes: "I live in Saudi and hold a Saudi drivers licence thank goodness, on looking at the dates on my South African one it was expired by 15 months. Managed to get an appointment on 18 December and was quite horrified at what I saw at the licence office 

"I live in Centurion and had no choice but to take an appointment in Bedfordview. Arrived for my 11.30 am appointment, I spent an hour in a queue to apply for the licence, and another hour pay. There was no proper social distancing and people jumping the queue. Rude staff, probably unhappy to be working the Friday before Christmas were the order of the day.

"I am quite shocked at the slow, archaic system that has not changed in more than ten years. Saudi allows me to choose a one, two, five or 10-year licence, and I pay appropriately for the choice. Payment is online for most government services to lessen corruption. 

"Holding thumbs for a system that serves people in the future."

Thank goodness there is at least someone that understands our situation. My driving licence card was taken out at Krugersdorp Branch after months of checking the Natis website morning and night. I am an essential worker and also over the age of 60. According to Natis, my card is ready to be collected, but I have given up trying to phone to confirm that the branch is open to collect my card. It worries me as I am on the road daily. Is there a way I can find out if my card is ready to be collected so that I can arrange to fetch it please?
Wheels24 reader Janine Dick

Mrs B says: "My car licence expired in August, we have been trying to renew it, no luck. My driving licence card was stolen in July, and I cannot get into the office to get a new one. 

"We live in Groblersdal; our office will help 50 people per day. Friends of ours took the plunge and went to the office at 06:00 for their licence. The office opens between 08:15 and 08:30. They were first and second in the queue, and they finished at 11:00. 

"Never mind the days on end when the office is closed due to a positive case. 

"We can get our vehicle licences from the Post Office; however, they also deal with the Sassa grants. Although each queue is separate, the Sassa queue snakes around with at least 100 people or more, and it is like that every day. Then there are the hawkers who cater to this influx of people as well.

"The Post Office licences are also contingent on the system being online, having a staff member who is qualified on the eNatis system and having enough stationery, of course. As my tone suggests, these occurrences are regularly present."

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