The renewal of your driver’s licence is a real kick to the shins. For many South Africans, it’s an (un)necessary evil that we have to put up with every five years. Long queues. A never-ending game of musical chairs. Dead-eyed staff who are tired of being yelled at by people who forgot their proof of residence at home. This is the average licensing department in a nutshell.
Don’t even get us started on the annual licence disc renewal.
Luckily, the nightmare may soon be at an end.
Licensing centres in Tshwane (Pretoria) have begun the implementation of an online booking system for drivers licence renewals.
Let’s take a look at the nitty gritty.
Licence Renewal Online Booking System
The new system has been provided by The Online Company South Africa. It is currently in use at four licencing centres. These are namely Akasia, Waltloo, Centurion, and Bronkhorstspruit.
Speaking to MyBroadband, the owner of The Online Company, Anton van der Merwe, said that the new system is a pilot being tested across Tshwane.
The system allows users to make an appointment to renew their drivers licence. It also offers a courier service (MDS Collivery) to deliver your new card.
Delivery fees are R96.45 within most of Gauteng and R141.41 to areas a little further out. These include those such as Hartbeespoort Dam, Brits, Vereeniging or Vanderbijlpark.
Delivery to Rustenburg is R204.34.
Making a booking, however, is 100% free, and of course you could opt to collect the card yourself. Van der Merwe has stated that the system isn’t profitable yet, but the purpose of it was only to prove the concept.
Professional Driving Permits are not included. As yet, the company has no plans to expand the services on the platform.
Unfortunately it isn’t possible to pay for the licence renewal through the system. Renewing of a licence in Gauteng currently costs R228, minus any penalties, and a temporary licence is R72, minus any photo fees. Both of these are subject to an annual increase, so be sure to double-check before you go.
And trust us, take cash. The last thing you want is to deal with an offline card system.
Using The System
To use the new system, you have to register an account on The Online Company website. Provide your name, contact details, and ID number.
Once the account has been created, you select a participating service centre for your licence renewal, and then an available appointment slot. Appointments are booked at 30-minute intervals.
You will then receive a receipt of the appointment via email – and an email the day before the appointment to remind you.
The staff at the licencing centre are furnished with a list of all appointments made online. So, instead of spending unnecessary time standing in this queue and then that queue and then another queue, you simply walk in and provide your name and receipt to the relevant person.
That person will then direct you to a separate section created especially for online bookings.
Collect and complete the relevant documents, get your fingerprints taken and undergo your eye examination. Alternatively, you could bring your own optometrist certificate along with you. When you have the test results, you pay for your renewal with the cashiers.
The entire process is designed to take about half an hour – which is about seven hundred hours less than everybody else.
Problems At The Licensing Centre
No good thing comes without its problems, and the rollout of the online booking system has been marred by break-ins and other incidents at the Tshwane testing centres.
Thieves broke into the Centurion and Waltloo service centres back in 2017, stealing cameras, computers and live capture systems. In another incident, thieves assaulted security personnel and officials at Waltloo, and then made off with an undisclosed sum of money.
The SAPS and Metro Police also thwarted an attempted burglary at the Akasia centre, arresting two suspects.
As a result, Waltloo and Centurion could not offer any licence renewals for extended periods of time. The latter of which has never really returned to previous service levels.
As it is with Home Affairs, people often begin to queue in the sun early in the morning. They may spend hours there, and a sad reality is that those in the back of the line, or those who arrive later in the day, will simply not receive any service at all.
Here’s hoping that The Online Company is successful. That this system can be implemented across the rest of the country. We may dream of a world, where going into the licensing department – or similar places – will become entirely unnecessary.
We may dream.