National Road Traffic Amendment Bill: briefing by Department

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14 May 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

14 May 2003

Mr J Cronin

Relevant Document
National Road Traffic Amendment Bill (See Appendix)

Department of Transport submitted an amendment to the National Road Traffic Act of 1996. The amendment revolved around legislation aimed at the regulating, and the setting down of procedure, for the new 'credit card' driving licence format. There were no omissions to the current legislation. Sections 18 and 19 of the Act are to be extended to include the new legislation. This would include a description of which licenses are valid, a description of the categories of people exempted, and the granting of the necessary powers to the Minister to enforce the new legislation.

Prof M Rwelamira, acting Director General,Department of Transport, presented an amendment to the National Road Traffic Act of 1996. The purpose is to clean up the act and address issues, with regard to the new 'credit card' driving licence format.

The amendments have arisen out of public debate and discussion, and the main points outlined by the DG were as follows:
-to regulate the act and procedures
-deal with areas not anticipated under current legislation
-certain categories of people granted exemption
-the empowering of the minister to grant said exemption

Prof Rwelamira expanded upon a number of points (please refer to Appendix)
In subsection 1, this insertion into the current legislation provides the power to declare the ID licence invalid. The Dept sought legal advice on the Automobile Association (AA's) position that this only invalidates the licence, it did not change the individuals competency to drive. The decision was however upheld, with new legislation to the effect that a person not holding the correct licence was deemed not competent to drive.

In section B of the same, the amendment provides a list of those categories of people given exemption. This includes those in hospital or incarcerated, or on foreign mission, during the period required to convert by virtue of birth month. It is not an open-ended exemption, as these categories would still need to provide proof of their not being able to convert at the allotted time.

Subsection 2 provides the procedure to follow for anyone not converted. It allows the minister to enforce the ruling that these people rewrite their learners' and driver' licences.

Mr R Ainslie (ANC) questioned the wording in the exemptions. He said that 'released' may imply some sort of incarceration in the hospital. Did this imply compulsory admission only, or include those in hospital by choice or through accident? Perhaps the word 'discharge' would be preferable.

Professor Rwelamira agreed, and conceded that the wording should be looked at again. The word 'release' in this case was used in a colloquial sense, and did not imply compulsory admission to hospital.

Mr S Farrow (DA) asked if people on private contracts overseas were included in the exemptions, or only those on official state-sanctioned foreign mission. He also suggested that the amendments be published via the media not just the Gazette, because of the wide-spread interest in this issue.

Prof Rwelamira, in regard to private contracts, said that it was difficult to determine the scope of persons overseas on private business, as it was difficult to provide for that kind of latitude. He agreed to look into the question further, but feared opening the act up to abuse. Regarding the publication of the amendments, he would need to seek the advice of the State Law Advisors. The normal channel of publication was through the Gazette, and issuing to the general press would need to be investigated.

Mr J Cronin (ANC) asked about section (19) 4, which appears to say that if the examiner at a Driver's Licence Testing Centre (DLTC) was convinced that the licence was valid, but expired, said examiners could issue a new licence. This would imply that the reissuing of the licence was an administrative task, physical testing excluded.

Prof Rwelamira answered that the intention for persons not converted was to retest. He conceded that the draft was messy, and would have it looked into with urgency. Section (19) 4 almost invalidated the rest of the section, relating to the retesting of those unconverted individuals.

Ms P Coetzee-Kasper (ANC) asked about certain age groups, for example those over 55. Should they be retested, or only a small of of the test performed? This would show a tolerance and preference by the Department for over 55's.

Professor Rwelamira replied that instructions were given at testing stations to show special consideration to the aged and the disabled. But no specific allocation could be given to the aged regarding testing, as nothing may infringe on the publics right to safety on the roads. Everyone should be tested equally, irrespective of age.

Mr G Schneemann (ANC) asked if licences not converted were invalid, if there would be a grace period allowed for retesting. For example, legal issues may arise from accidents involving unconverted drivers.

Prof Rwelamira stated that the position was quite clear. Legal advice was sought, and the decision upheld that the term 'invalid' licence should mean that any person driving on the public roads without the correct licence format, should be in contravention of the law, as the ID licence ceased to exist in terms of the amended legislation.

Certain questions arose from a number of committee members regarding the renewal of licences, but as this was a separate discussion altogether, and as the Department was drafting separate legislation regarding renewals, it was agreed to postpone discussion of the issue until such a time as the committee was presented with papers in that regard.

In closing, the Department undertook to look at the redrafting of section (19) 4, to be available for further discussion in two weeks.

The meeting was adjourned.

National Road Traffic Amendment Bill


(As introduced in the National Assembly as a section 75 BiII, explanatory summary of Bill published in Government Gazette No. of ) (The English text is the official text of the Bill)


[B 2003]


[ ] Words in bold type in square brackets indicate omissions from existing enactments.

____________ Words underlined with a solid line indicate insertions in existing enactments.




To amend the National Road Traffic Act, 1996, so as to provide anew for the period within which certain driving licences remain valid; and to empower the Minister to set different periods within which different categories of persons must substitute their driving licences; and to provide for matters connected thereto.

BE IT ENACTED by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, as follows:-
Amendment of section 18 of Act 93 of 1996

1. Section 18 of the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No.93 of 1996) (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), is hereby amended-

(a) by the substitution for subsection (6) of the following subsection:

"(6) (a) A driving licence which has officially been included in an identity document shall be deemed to be a driving licence issued under this Act, until a date fixed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette.

In respect of any notice issued in terms of paragraph (a), in the case of any person who was unable to apply for such a driving licence due to him or her being-
(i) admitted in any medical facility or detained in any state institution in terms of an order issued or sentence imposed by a court of law; or
(ji) posted by the Government on a foreign mission or assignment; the date determined in that notice shall, upon proof submitted by any such person of the date of his or her release from such institution or his or her return to the Republic be deem to be a date six months after the date of such release or such return."
; and
(b) by the addition of the following subsection:

"(7) (a) A driving licence other than a licence contemplated in subsection (6) that was valid immediately before the commencement of this section remain valid until a date determined by the Minister by notice in the Gazette.

(b) The Minister may-
(i) determine different dates for the expiry of the validity of driving licences contemplated in paragraph (a) in respect of different categories of persons; and

(iii) extend any date determined in terms of subparagraph (i).".

Substitution of section 19 of Act 93 of 1996

The following section is hereby substituted for section 19 of the

principal Act:

"Substitution of a driving licence before certain date

19. (1) The holder of a driving licence contemplated in section 18(6) or (7) must. before the date determined by the Minister, apply to a driving licence testing centre for the issue of a driving licence in substitution of his or her licence.

(2) If the holder of a driving licence fails to apply for a driving licence before the date determined by the Minister. the driving licence in question becomes invalid and the holder must apply for a driving licence in terms of section 18.

(3) An application under subsection (2) shall be made in the prescribed manner and be accompanied by the prescribed documents.

(4) Upon receipt of an application under subsection (2) the examiner for driving licences, if he or she is satisfied that the existing licence is a valid licence and that the applicant is the holder thereof, shall, subject to section 25, issue or authorise the issue of a driving licence on the prescribed form and in the prescribed manner in respect of the class of motor vehicle to which the existing licence relates.".

Short title

4. This Bill shall be called the National Road Traffic Amendment Act 2003.


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