• South Africa’s driver’s license card printing machine reportedly broke down in November 2021.
• It has since been fixed and is operational.
• Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula visited the DLCA to see the machine in action.
• For automotive news, visit Wheels24.
Less than two weeks ago, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that the driver’s license card machine in South Africa had broken down and needed repair in Germany. Now, Mbalula has posted a video on social media of himself visiting the Driver’s License Card Account (DLCA) – the national entity that produces driver’s license cards for the whole country.
Earlier in January, Wheels24 reported that the machine consequently broke down in November 2021. Mbalula said at the time: “The licensing machine is in Germany; it’s broken. I will announce temporary measures regarding the temporary licenses, but I’m moving forward with the new driver’s license cards, which I will announce in public.”
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Mbalula says in the video that staff work “day and night shifts” to get South African driver’s license cards printed. He also says in the video that some DLCA staff have been working there since 1998 – around the time the printing machine was first commissioned.
Hello SA, yesterday I visited the DLCA staff and spent the afternoon with them.
The license card machine has been repaired and is operational. Staff work day and night to ensure your license is manufactured and delivered. https://t.co/k2xuXNMkM1 pic.twitter.com/x3XjYpkx6O
— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 26, 2022
Although the machine is back in working order is good news, there has been a significant backlog in driving license renewals – at least over 500,000 in Gauteng alone at the time the printing machine stopped. However, the backlog had increased long before that date. South Africa’s driving license system has long been in jeopardy and has only come to light due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Motorists in Gauteng, and now some in the Eastern Cape, have struggled with the online booking system known as Natis.
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According to a press release published in November 2021 by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the backlog was close to 1.5 million two months ago:
RTMC said: “The backlog of driver’s license cards that expired between March 26, 2020 and August 31, 2021 is slowly changing. The backlog now stands at 1,476,853. Gauteng has 509,888 driver’s license cards driving licenses not yet renewed, followed by KwaZulu Natal with 242,170, Western Province 192,519, Limpopo 134,886, Mpumalanga 122,566, Eastern Cape 107,601, Free State 71,165, North West 69,350 and Northern Cape 26,708.”
We can only imagine how these numbers have increased in every province since mid-November. Many motorists have emailed Wheels24 and said they have been waiting for their driver’s license cards for over six months – long before the machine broke.
Mbalula says in the video during his visit to the DLCA on Tuesday January 25 that he will give more details about the machine and how it works in his next speech.
CEO of OUTA Wayne Duvenage sheds light on stress and dilemmas South Africans are in the process of obtaining a driver’s license card. “Motorists are forced to drive with expired driver’s license cards because they cannot continue to take days off to go back and forth in the department,” he notes. The Department for Transport has extended its grace period for driving license cards that expired during last year’s lockdown, ending at the end of March 2022.
The Automobile Association told Wheels24: “It’s great news that the printing machine is back up and running, but we are extremely concerned about the backlog. Obviously the March 31, 2022 deadline for lockdown expired driver’s licenses will again be respected, and this date will most likely have to be extended again.”