National Road Traffic Amendment Bill: public hearings day 2

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11 March 2021
Chairperson: Mr M Zwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Transport, 11 March 2021

The Committee received submissions on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill from the South African Driving School Operators Association, the National Organisation of Driving Schools and the South African Number Plate Association.

The South African Driving School Operators Association welcomed the regulation of the driving school industry. It made several comments on specific clauses of the Bill. It suggested allowing the private sector to participate in driving licence testing to alleviate congestion. It said driving schools should be allowed to apply for tests on behalf of their students. It drew attention to the misuse of Code 10 licences. It was concerned about the implications for the driving school industry of allowing testing centres to provide test vehicles. It requested the establishment of an office in the Department of Transport to administer the industry’s affairs, and appealed for the suspension of the online test booking system, as it was causing many problems.

The Committee inquired about the practicalities of and alternatives to involving the private sector in testing and the nature of the proposed departmental office. Members sought clarity on the misuse of Code 10 licences, discussed the provision of test vehicles by testing centres, and the Association’s involvement in the training of its members.

The National Organisation of Driving Schools called for the licence system to be reworked so that the Code 8 light vehicle licence became mandatory for all drivers, with the Code 10/C licence available as an upgrade for people intending to drive heavy vehicles. It also called for the establishment of a training institute to enable driving school instructors to become certified.

Committee Members questioned the practicality of the proposed changes to the licensing regime, suggested liaison with the Department of Higher Education and Training on driving instructor training, and asked about ways to address corruption between instructors and examiners.

The South African Number Plate Association called for aluminum number plates to be made mandatory, as plastic number plates were much easier to forge. It also suggested that a national number plate be introduced, reducing the variety of number plates and thereby simplifying policing.

Committee Members sought the Association’s views on microdot security and the reasons for the increase in number plate forgery.

Meeting report

The Chairperson invited Dr Geoff Nkosi, President, South African Driving School Operators Association (SADSOA), to make a submission to the Committee on the National Road Traffic Amendment (NRTA) Bill.

Submission by SADSOA

Dr Nkosi thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present to the Committee. He explained that SADSOA represented driving schools in all nine provinces. SADSOA welcomed the regulation of the driving school industry. Dr Nkosi made comments on several specific clauses in the Bill.

With regard to Clause 14, SADSOA called for the opportunity to open a driving licence testing centre to be opened up to the private sector. This would help alleviate some of the congestion. In Newcastle, for example, there was only one testing centre serving a fairly large town with several big driving schools.

SADSOA opposed the amendments in Clause 19 which would create a new category of provisional driving licence because it would be burdensome to the public. Instead, people seeking to obtain a Code 8 (light vehicle) licence should be given intensive training in driving a vehicle safely. SADSOA also opposed the practice of taking the test for a Code 10 (heavy vehicle) licence with the intention of driving a light vehicle.

With regard to Clause 24, SADSOA requested that driving schools be allowed to submit driving test applications on behalf of learners, as it could be very difficult for individuals to book a test.

SADSOA was very concerned about provisions in Clause 25 that would allow testing centres to provide vehicles for testing. This amendment would have a disastrous effect on driving centres’ business. Instead, a programme of vehicle recapitalisation for the driving school industry should be considered.

SADSOA supported Clause 31 on condition that the grading of driving schools was preceded by a thorough programme of training. Previously disadvantaged members of the industry should be given the opportunity to obtain recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Additions to Clause 34 should be introduced that would establish an office in the Department of Transport (DoT) to administer the industry’s affairs. The professional driving permit (PrDP) should be replaced by a certificate that required theoretical and practical training. The online driving test system should be suspended temporarily because it was causing havoc. The proof of address requirement for learner’s licence applicants should be reconsidered.


Mr C Hunsinger (DA) asked how the inclusion of the private sector in driver’s licence testing would work in practice, and how the practice of using a Code 10 licence to drive a Code 8 vehicle worked. How were Code 10 licences misused? What was the problem with the online booking system? He asked if Dr Nkosi had any thoughts on the K53 test, which some stakeholders had said was out of date, and the advanced driving skill requirement for public transport drivers. He asked how SADSOA envisaged the proposed office for driving schools in the DoT.

Mr T Mabhena (DA) asked what type of prior learning SADSOA wanted to be recognised. Was it for people with absolutely no exposure to the formal education system? He agreed that instructors should be offered training before being graded. He asked whether SADSOA would support requiring driver’s licence applicants to take the test at a testing centre within their local authority. He also wanted clarity on the proposed departmental office. Would it be national, provincial or local, and what would it seek to achieve?

Mr L McDonald (ANC) agreed with Dr Nkosi that a PrDP should require training and that the online booking system should be temporarily suspended.

Ms M Ramadwa (ANC) asked if there were any ways of alleviating the congestion at testing centres other than involving the private sector. She asked how many members there were on the SADSOA committee iand how many were women.

Mr L Mangcu (ANC) asked if SADSOA would support the creation of standards for vehicles used in driving tests, instead of having testing centres use their own vehicles. He also suggested that, as providers of education, driving schools might be more appropriately regulated under a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) rather than through an office of the DoT.

Mr K Sithole (IFP) asked whether SADSOA had a programme of monitoring and evaluation to address the mushrooming of fly-by-night driving schools. He was concerned that SADSOA was calling for the education of driving instructors, as the instructors were supposed to be teaching people how to drive. Taxi drivers, he observed, simply drove as they wished. He also asked Dr Nkosi to expand on the reasons SADSOA wanted the online booking system suspended.


Dr Nkosi agreed to provide his responses in writing due to time constraints.

Submission by the National Organisation of Driving Schools (NODSA)

Mr Rafiek Jardine, Chairperson, NODSA, explained that NODSA was a new association of driving schools that had been formed in 2019. It called for the Code 8/B licence to become mandatory for all drivers, with the Code 10/C licence available as an upgrade for people intending to drive heavy vehicles.

It also called for the establishment of a training institute to enable driving school instructors to become certified, after which they would need to register. At the moment, there was no way for instructors to certify their competence, so it was possible for even a newly-licenced 18-year-old driver to set up a school. In addition, there was currently pervasive corruption in the relationship between driving schools and examiners.


Mr Mabhena said that the motivation for making the Code 8 licence a mandatory basic licence for all drivers was not sufficient, and he suggested that the testing matrix of the Code 8 licence could perhaps be incorporated into the test for the Code 10 licence as it did not make sense to force someone to qualify to drive light vehicles if they only wanted to drive heavy vehicles. He was surprised that there wasn’t already a training institute for driving instructors, and he suggested that there could be some liaison between the DoT and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on this matter.

Ms N Nolutshungu (EFF) said that the issue of corruption between driving schools and examiners was an important one because it resulted in unqualified, dangerous drivers on the road. She asked Mr Jardine what could be done about it. What was his opinion on penalising driving instructors who did not train their students properly?

The Chairperson reported that the transport SETA was developing a driving instructor qualification, together with the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the DoT.


Mr Jardine said that NODSA had a disciplinary committee, and a member school that was found to be involved in corruption would be expelled from the organisation and reported to the police.

The reason that a Code B/8 licence should be conceived as a basic licence with Code C/10 as an upgrade was that light and heavy vehicles had very different handling characteristics. Certain elements of the Code 8/B licence test, such as parallel parking and three-point turns, were not included in the Code 10/C test. There was also more corruption in the administration of the Code 10/C test. He offered to draft a list of differences between the two tests.

Submission by the South African Number Plate Association (SANA)

Ms Zurika Louw, Chief Executive Officer, SANA, said that the regulation of embossers and blank number plate manufacturers was a problem. When a vehicle was used in a crime, it usually had cloned or stolen number plates. No action was taken against the manufacturers of illegal plates and the legitimate industry needed assistance. Between the different sizes and provincial varieties, there were currently almost 400 different kinds of number plates, which made policing very difficult. A national number plate would go a long way to solving this problem. She understood that the DoT had been looking into this and would appreciate any feedback on that process.


Mr McDonald said that better enforcement of existing number plate legislation was more important than changing the current legislation.

Mr Mangcu asked why it had become so easy for people to create fake number plates. Were the current security features such as watermarks working properly? What was SANA’s view on the proposal to introduce microdot security?


Ms Louw agreed that enforcement was crucial. SANA was looking to create a booklet to assist metro police officers identify fake number plates at roadblocks. She explained that plastic number plates were easy to clone by covering a sheet of perspex with vinyl. Although it did not have the retro reflective properties of a legitimate number plate, it still looked convincing from a distance and it could be created without special tools or machinery. It was much harder to forge an aluminium number plate, which was why SANA opposed the use of plastic plates. She was not sure how microdotting would work on number plates. How would the microdots be applied? She was concerned that it might be very easy to remove the dots.


The Committee decided not to hold meetings during the constituency period and the meeting was adjourned.


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