Court rules on expiry of driving licences


On Monday, the High Court in Pretoria rejected AfriForum’s application that the regulation around the expiry of driving licenses should be revised.

This means that driving licenses are still only valid for five years. According to AfriForum, its legal team is investigating the possibility of appealing against the decision.

The civil rights organization argues that the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 is contrary to the five-year validity period and does not leave room for a regulation that determines that driving licenses expire, but the application was rejected on a technical point.

The application was heard on 8 August. According to judge AJ Strijdom’s judgment, AfriForum should have brought the application within 180 days after the regulation was issued 23 years ago and is therefore not admissible.

According to Louis Boshoff, campaign officer at AfriForum, the decision is a slap in the face of responsible car drivers in South Africa. “This court ruling validates the Department of Transport’s ‘improper driving licence’ which never expires. The department is unable to issue driving licenses on time, but law-abiding citizens must then pay the fines.”

Boshoff further argues that it is unfortunate that the court on a technical point refused condonation for the “late” filing of the review application instead of paying attention to the merits of the case. He says the contradiction in the law is obvious.

AfriForum received several complaints from individuals who did not receive their renewed license cards from the Department of Transport in time. This results in them being fined despite every effort to remain legally licensed. The department’s license card printer has often broken down in recent years and it is clear that licenses continue to expire faster than new ones are printed, says Boshoff.

“The Department of Transport can no longer distinguish between competent and incompetent drivers – they have duped the biggest driver’s license test in the country.”