Outa, AA again urge Mbalula to extend driver's licence renewal deadline

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has remained steadfast that the grace period will not be extended beyond the end of March.

A general view of a South African driver's licence. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Thursday is the last day for South African motorists to renew their expired driving licence cards without facing a penalty despite a backlog, with more than half a million expired licences in the system.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the Automobile Association is again appealing to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to reconsider government's refusal to extend the grace period.

Driving licences that expired between March 2020 and August last year will no longer be valid from Thursday.

The mounting backlog was caused by the hard lockdown as well as a breakdown of the country’s only licence printing machine last year.

The minister has remained steadfast that the grace period will not be extended beyond the end of March.

Deadlines have come and gone and been extended several times for driving licence renewals.

However, thousands of motorists are scrambling to be lawful citizens, with no available appointments or the occasional offline system making it impossible to get a slot for a licence or renewal booking.

The Automobile Association’s Layton Beard has described the hundreds of thousands of drivers on the roads illegally as a crisis.

"We would like to see an extension of the deadline to apply for driving licenses and we think unless the government does that, we have a crisis that is looming in that many, as I said, hundreds of thousands of people are going to have to be on the road illegally and that's not a situation anybody wants," Beard said.

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage agreed, adding that it was unrealistic to expect that this enormous backlog would be cleared by Thursday.

"We have asked and urged him to extend that deadline or at least inform police officers to not issue fines for those who have expired licences," Duvenage said.

Meanwhile, motorists who applied to renew their license cards before Thursday’s deadline will be legally on the roads for a further three months.