Timeframe for drivers’ licence renewals under the spotlight

Afriforum took the battle to oppose drivers’ licences having to be renewed every five years, to court. Meanwhile the RTMC announced that it has provided the minister of transport with research about the issue.

Research into the validity period of driver’s licence cards in South Africa and changing it to a lengthier time frame has been completed by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). Afriforum filed court papers on Thursday saying the requirement to renew licences every five years is not stipulated by law.

In April, Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula announced that the Department of Transport had commissioned the RTMC to research possible changes to the renewal timeframes.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane says, “The research has been done as requested by the minister. Further decisions will be taken and communicated by the ministry”.

On Thursday, AfriForum petitioned for motorists to help strengthen its case in fighting the requirements for a driving licence card to be renewed every five years.

The civil rights organisation filed court papers in a bid to oppose the requirement for driving licence cards to be renewed every five years.

Campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum, Reiner Duvenage says “Afriforum demands a declaratory order that the National Road Traffic Act regulations, to the extent that it limits the renewal period for driving licence cards to five years, are ultra vires, unreasonable, arbitrary and vague.”

Duvenage says their application further strives a declaratory order that motorists cannot by law be fined for not being in possession of a renewed driving licence card as no such penalty exists.

She says AfriForum felt it had substantial legal and practical grounds for its application to succeed in the courts.

“From a legal perspective, the National Road Traffic Act and regulations are too vague to be workable.

“The legislation does not clearly distinguish between a driving licence and a “driving licence card”.

According to Duvenage, the act was not clear-cut and did not state that motorists had to apply for new licence cards upon expiry.

“It does not even state that it is a crime to drive with an expired licence card nor prescribe any fines, penalties or sanctions.

“The legislation is not clear, concise and internally harmonious enough to enable the public to know with a degree of certainty what is expected of them. The government cannot punish members of the public if it cannot clearly show what law is being transgressed,” Duvenage says.

Duvenage says many countries worldwide opted for a licence card system that did not require such frequent renewals.

She says the Department of Transport’s administrative, operational, and financial struggles made it unfeasible and irrational to require drivers to renew their licences every five years.

“It is outrageous that there appears to be no legislation validating the requirement for driving licence cards to be renewed every five years.

“Therefore, if our application is successful, it will leave the Department of Transport with egg on its face as it would mean that it has been wrongfully punishing the public for years. This could truly be a watershed case in the history of South Africa,” Duvenage says.

AfriForum has since Thursday launched a website where members of the public can add their voices to support this court case.

Read original story on rekord.co.za