National Road Traffic Amendment Bill: Department briefing & Motion of Desirability; with Minister

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13 October 2020
Chairperson: Mr M Zwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee convened on a virtual platform to be briefed by the Minister and Department of Transport on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill. The proposed new clauses would serve as amendments to the existing National Road Traffic Act. The Bill proposed amendments to licenses, number plates, driving schools, testing centres, traffic officials and alcohol levels.

Members agreed there is a need for behavioural change on the roads.

Members said there are a number of institutions that should have been engaged with and should have contributed to the Bill. They asked what the level of engagement was with these organisations. They also asked why it was decided to have a parallel Bill as there would now be an overlap between the existing legislature and the new Bill instead of bringing amendments

Members reckoned that one of the biggest challenges in vehicle testing is that there are roadworthiness certificates being issues when a vehicle has not been tested. How does the Department propose to circumvent such issues?

The motion of desirability for the Bill was adopted. The programme for public hearings was also agreed on.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members, the Minister of Transport, the Department delegation and the Committee support staff. He indicated that this meeting was dedicated to the presentation of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill by the Department of Transport, the motion of desirability and processing of the Bill and the draft programme of public hearings and minutes. He proposed that the Committee adopt the agenda.

The agenda was adopted.

Briefing by the Department of Transport: Nationl Road Traffic Amendment Bill

Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, took the Committee through the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill. He said that the Bill seeks to address the identified gaps and loopholes in the National Road Traffic, Act No. 93 of 1996. The Bill, inter alia, deals with the registration of driving schools, the registration of persons who manufacture, supply or sell number plates, the regulation of way bridges and driver intoxication. There have been a series of bogus driving schools operating as money making schemes with little interest in teaching the rules of the road. These driving schools came as a result of a lack of regulatory frameworks that govern driving schools. This Bill seeks to address that, as all driving schools will now need to be registered and achieve certain requirements before they are allowed to operate. This will ensure that driving schools produce learners that have an in-depth knowledge of the rules of the road and promote safe driving. No person will be allowed to operate non-registered, non-graded driving schools.

Some manufacturers and sellers of number plates were also no adhering to the Law. The Bill proposes strict measurers for manufacturers and sellers of number plates. Those who fail to adhere to these measures will be deregistered. There are many instances of crime and instances of number plates being cloned. This Bill seeks to curb such crimes by regulating institutions that manufacture and sell number plates.

No concentration of alcohol in the blood or any specimen taken from any part of the body of a driver or a person occupying the driver’s seat with the engine running will be permitted. This will ensure zero-tolerance to drivers who drink and drive on the roads, placing everyone in danger.

Efforts have been emboldened by the recent study of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) with the University of South Africa (UNISA), which was commissioned by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and completed in 2020. The study revealed the following:

- Driver intoxication significantly increases the risk for crashes;

- Fatal crashes attributed to alcohol were shown to be significantly greater at night that during the day relative to crashes attributed to both speeding and all other driver risks;

- The risk for fatal crashes attributed to alcohol was significantly greater during both long weekends; and regular weekends than during weekdays, relative to crashes attributed to speeding and other driver risks;

- Alcohol impairs driving ability by either depressing or stimulating the central nervous system;

- Alcohol influences drivers’ attitude, decision-making, alertness, judgement, response and control of the motor vehicle;

- South Africa has one of the highest road traffic death tolls globally, with alcohol use reported as a leading risk factor to road traffic crashes.


The clauses introduced by this Bill are measures aimed at reducing carnage on the roads. The state is spending billions of Rands on the Road Accident Fund; the Department needs to ensure that it undertakes new measures to reduce road accidents and save lives. The Department calls on the Committee to support the Bill as it ushers in the new world order and has long term effects towards the economic recovery plans.

The Director-General of the Department of Transport, Mr Alec Moemi, said that after several studies and the in-depth Fatal Road Crashes Investigation Report, in 2006, the Road Safety Strategy was finalised to respond to some of the key issues from enforcement to driver behaviour, vehicle roadworthiness and road safety but there still exists gaps in the legislature that the Bill seeks to address.

This is the first time looking at issues of number plates. In order to bring regulation to the licensing of vehicles and identification of vehicles for road crashes and other enforcement mechanisms, the Department is looking at a new system of number plates – embedding of microdot into the new number plates.

Looking at the technology that exists in the highways of Gauteng and emerging in the Western Cape, microdot scanners would be able to read number plates; this also helps with monitoring traffic volumes and patterns.

Qualifications for public wardens are being embedded in order to curb the frequency of fly-by-night schools and instructors.

Manufacturers and body-builders of vehicles need to be regulated and registered.

Driving schools and instructors need to be registered, qualified and trained. Learners also need to know which driving schools are licensed.

The Minister would now have extended powers in terms of traffic ordinances and issuance of licences from other countries according to the new protocols of the Southern African Development Countries (SADC) on the movement of persons and goods.

Major role players in the sector were consulted and a Bill was tabled for consideration at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).


Mr L Mangcu (ANC) thanked the Department for its efforts to arrest the runaway train of road accidents. He said that the country had always benchmarked to other countries’ standards that have done well with road crashes such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and the State of Victoria in Australia, but most of these countries do still allow low alcohol content level and breath. So what is the rationale behind going the other way while other countries still have allowable alcohol levels? This demonstrates that it is not necessarily the alcohol that is the issue.

He said that one of the biggest challenges in vehicle testing is that there are roadworthiness certificates being issues when a vehicle has not been tested. How does the Department propose to circumvent such issues? South African Institute of Driving Instructors (SAIDI) has been around for a long time. He asked for comment on that. He said that he is not sure what the DG is proposing on the issue of licences and asked for a repeat of the proposed amendment.

Mr C Hunsinger (DA) asked why it was decided to have a parallel Bill as there would now be an overlap between the existing legislature and the new Bill instead of bringing amendments. He asked to what extent the statistics in the UNISA report used and incorporated into consideration and asked for a copy of the report. Mr Hunsinger also asked what the rationale was between zero-tolerance and driving since 30% of accidents have been related to alcohol.

Mr L McDonald (ANC) said that the Committee has to take into consideration the relation between people drinking at work and taking medication and also look at the world standards. He said that what the country needs is behavioural change, better education and proper enforcement of the existing laws.

Mr McDonald also asked for clarity on the SADC and licences issue. He asked the Committee to consider looking at lawlessness in licensing and asked for the accidents report.

Mr T Mabhena (DA) agreed that there is a need for behavioural change on the roads. He said that there are a number of institutions that should have been engaged with and should have contributed to the Bill. He asked what the level of engagement was with these organisations. In terms of the rationalisation with SADC compliant driving licences, he asked whether these are still in line with those proposed by the DG and how their security is.

Mr K Sithole (IFP) noted that the Act allows for government and private operated testing centres. He asked for that to be unpacked, especially in terms of the control of competition. He asked about the cooperation and coordination from all spheres of government; how would government control the issue of traffic cops not operating on the same system? Mr Sithole asked if there is a training model that exists at both provincial and national levels and what the powers of the provincial legislature and the local government are.


Mr Moemi responded that this Bill is not a parallel Bill but an amendment to the existing National Road Traffic Act and some of the clauses have been restated and clarified. He said that there is a whole host of clause that have not been mentioned in the presentation or clauses that are still valid and remain relevant. The new clauses close the gaps that existed but also strive to keep up with advances in technology. He said that copies of the studies that had been undertaken would be shared with the Committee.

Mr Moemi responded that the existing blood alcohol level laws are aligned with those of the United Kingdom (UK) as there was a fusion of systems due to SA’s history but SA is not the UK. The UK has deeper pockets and different socio-economic issues. He said it is good to look at the standards of other countries but remember that SA is still a developing country. SA has a bigger challenge of crashes and driving under the influence of alcohol. Solutions that work for these other countries may not work for SA.

He said that the duplicity of private and national testing centres has already been occurring. The Department was arresting officials who had been found to be issuing roadworthiness licenses unlawfully. Stations have been closed and testing centre owners were appealing to the Minister for mercy; so it is evident that the Department is acting and bringing more power than before.

On the issue of contributions to the Bill, he said that everyone in the sector had been invited to make inputs. SAIDI did not come forth but they can still be engaged; the Department does not have a problem with that.

Clause 24 in section 23 of the current Act provides for the recognition of driving licenses issued in other countries based on the SADC convention. All member states are expected to recognise the dual licenses and are subject to peer reviews. As a result, the Department is strengthening the issue of driving schools; it is looking at the qualification of instructors, the authenticity of licenses and ensuing that license can be suspended. The Department is also providing that the Minister has the power to declare licenses invalid for people who have been arrested or hospitalised for long periods of time for mental health issues. Mr Moemi noted that cooperation and coordination across all spheres of government would be looked at.

The Minister emphasised that the RTMC study and others would be looked at with the Member of the Committee as would the issue of lower alcohol percentage.

Motion of Desirability: National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

The motion of desirability was accepted.

Due to some confusion on the difference between Bills and amendments, Ms Phumelele Ngema, the Parliamentary Legal Advisor, explained the process of Bills and amendments to the Committee Members.

Draft ERT programme for public hearings

The Chairperson said the programme would take place between 20 and 28 October. On 3 November, the Department would present to the Portfolio Committee. He asked Members to air their views.


Mr Sithole supported the programme and asked why the Department of the Western Cape and the Committee have not come together.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was not given permission to move with public hearings while the House is sitting. The Committee had to ensure that the day was wrapped up in time for Members to be able to be at the House. Therefore, the programme was affected by that decision.

The programme was adopted.  

Committee minutes dated 6 October 2020

The minutes of 06 October 2020 were adopted.


Mr McDonald said that he has read the rules on the establishment of the sub-committee and asked for another meeting so that the sub-committee could start with its work.

The Chairperson proposed to schedule the matter as an item for the next meeting.

The Chairperson explained that the Committee has not been granted permission to go on an oversight while Parliament is sitting. Only Fridays and Saturdays would be used because it is important to perform these oversights. The Committee has to zero-in on one or two specific items in order to have meaningful oversights. He asked for comments.

Mr Mangcu proposed Mangaung, particularly BMT and rail infrastructure, and eThekwini – BRT and PRASA.

Mr McDonald said that he supports the proposals by Mr Mangcu as those are the most critical issues that need to be addressed.

Mr Mabhena proposed that the Committee visit Moloto Road, meet with the municipalities there -City of Tshwane, Thembisile, Hani, etc., in order to have engagements with them and the people who are currently protesting. He also proposed visits to the Gauteng and Mpumalanga DLTCS and KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng rails. The Committee could also meet with PRASA to deal with the issues of insourcing and engage with the people who had been dismissed and had not been favoured by the process.

The Chairperson said that there were four areas to be visited and two would be visited on each Friday

The Committee agreed.

Mr Mangcu requested that the Committee could issue a statement on the issue of accidents in KwaZulu-Natal and on the issue of vandalism as well.

Mr M Chabangu (EFF) said there have been roads blocked in Senekal in the Free State. He asked that the Committee make a statement that such things cannot be allowed to happen.

The Chairperson thanked Members and said he hopes the Committee continues to work together fruitfully.

The meeting was adjourned.

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