The minister of transport’s proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) regulations earlier this week were described as “immoral” and “daylight robbery”.
On 3 September, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula published a draft amendment to the regulations for public comments.
The draft amendments included what seemed to be an online booking fee of R250 on top of the fee for renewing the licence card and service fees.
Esethu Hasane, media liaison officer for the department of transport, accused the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) of misreading the draft.
“No new fee has been introduced. Government is proposing an additional option of making your licence card online payment R250, which you would have paid had you walked in to a DLTC [Driving Licence Testing Centre],” Hasane said on Twitter.
However, Chris Hunsinger from the Democratic Alliance (DA) said if the proposal that motorists pay R250 just to book a slot online to renew their driving licence card was truly just an added option to move the process online and not an extra cost to motorists, it should be stated clearly.
Hunsinger said what seemed more likely was that the minister did indeed intend motorists to shell out more money and was now backtracking due to the outrage that followed.
“The RTMC currently has a R262 million surplus, and any extra cost to motorists would be nothing but daylight robbery,” he added.
He said South Africans were struggling to provide for their basic needs and many were reliant on their driving licence cards to earn a living, so to exploit motorists would be immoral.
Outa called on the RTMC to recall, clean up and reissue its poorly worded gazette.
“They are desperately attempting to deflect their own mess onto Outa for misrepresentation of their services and fees,” said Stefanie Fick, Outa executive director.
Outa said misinterpretation by the public stemmed from misrepresentation or poorly worded explanations gazetted for public comment by the RTMC and the department.
A group of driving instructors in the parking lot of the Watloo licence department said the extra fees would kill
“We are losing clients because we can’t get bookings,” one of the instructors said. They said the system was not only slow, but released the dates on the wrong days.
“Sometimes we have to go as far as Mpumalanga to get help at the walk-in centres,” said one unhappy driving
instructor. Derick Maluleka said many people did not have access to the internet to make online bookings.
“They wouldn’t be able to pay the R228 and an extra R250 – old people especially, they should get free bookings,” he said.
Morne Nel from My Driving School said the proposed amendments were nonsense. “We get a great number of complaints about the booking system because it doesn’t work as it should.”
The Automobile Association of South Africa has launched a petition against the proposed fees for driving licence card renewals and vehicle registrations.