Automobile Association on National Road Traffic Amendment Bill: Discussion

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28 May 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

28 May 2003

Mr J Cronin

Documents handed out:
AA Comment on National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

The Automobile Association (AA) informed the Committee on amendments to the National Road Traffic Act in regards to the new 'credit card' licence format. The AA representative was unavailable and the written submission was discussed. This was in response to a meeting held two weeks ago, in which a number of issues were raised. The AA was invited to submit their comments, in their absence, a representative from the Department of Transport was invited, to add comment and answer questions.

Mr Cronin opened the meeting with apologies on behalf of the AA. The AA representative was unavailable and the written submission was scheduled to do the presentation, Gary Ronald, was not available for the meeting, and instead sent a copy of the amendment bill along with comments, and insertions or omissions were deemed necessary.

Mr Cronin advised the committee that the amended draft legislation was not yet ready for final debate and voting. The State Law Advisors were due to review the amendments today, and the committee would simply to satisfy itself on the bill, not to formally approve.

Mr T Tsholetsane, representative from the Department of Transport, started the proceedings by commenting on two revisions made in response to the last meeting on this issue. In the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, Section 18-1 (b) (ii), the word 'discharge' was added to the wording. Similarly, in Section 19-2 (4), the intentions of the Department regarding those who had not converted to the new Credit Card Format (CCF) licence, is clearly spelled out. Please refer to appendix.

The committee reviewed the remainder of the document, subject to concerns raised at the previous meeting, and submitted comment:

Mr R Ainslie (ANC) was concerned that the wording in Section 18-1 (6) (b) (i) seems to imply a court order. He suggested that (i) stand on it's own, and that the remainder of the sentence drop down to form an entirely new sentence, to be clear from a legal standpoint. The committee agreed to this.

Mr S Farrow (DA) reflected on the categories of persons exempted, Section 18-1 (6) (b) (i) and (ii), and noted that no provision had been made for the former TBVC states. He made this comment as it had become clear to him that certain persons had not been included in the traffic database, and thereby could not convert their licences. Mr Farrow noted that the licences issued under the TBVC states contained an extra two digits in the licence number, and this was the reason, in his conclusion, that these were not included.

Mr Tsholetsane agreed that this was an issue to be explored further, and assured the committee that the Department was aware of other forms of licences. Should these prove verifiable, the persons concerned could convert.

Mr Farrow went on further with a concern about publication of the new amended legislation. Subject to normal channels, the Amendment Bill is published in the Government Gazette. He enquired about the feasibility of this, citing occasions where he himself, an elected public official, could not get hold of the Gazette. How much more difficult would it be, then, for a member of the public? Perhaps an alternate method of publication could be suggested.

Mr Ainslie agreed with this point, although conceded that it was difficult and expensive, but that the press would normally pick up and report such an issue in the normal course of business. Mr Cronin similarly agreed, although the decision was made to include this issue in the committee's final report to Parliament, in the event that it might be sent out as leaflets/pamphlets or community newspapers.

Mr Farrow enquired about those people who had been overseas on private business, under order or assignment from their companies, at the time of converting. Although this had been raised at the previous meeting, it was clear that no consideration had been made to the question. At present, only those persons overseas under Government foreign mission were exempted.

Mr Cronin reminded the committee that the Department had adequately, in his opinion, given their position at the previous exchange. It had been decided that it opened the legislation up to too much abuse, and in order to curb said abuse or corruption, it was decided to keep the exemptions as 'tight as possible'. The eventuality of private company staff being overseas at the time of conversion was a factor that should have been built into the planning of the trip.

The committee at this point appeared split on a decision. Mr Ainslie agreed that it would limit corruption by limiting the exemptions.

Mr Farrow did not feel that the question had yet been adequately answered. He was still 'not happy' with the fact that a legitimate businessperson overseas at the time could not be accommodated.

It was suggested by Mr Cronin, and agreed upon, that Mr Farrow would draft a response to Department, to revise the categories of persons.

Automobile Association submission
The committee then read over the comments and insertions made by the AA. A comment on on Section 18 1 (b), adding the words 'restricted in movement' to the categories of persons exempted, was felt too generous by the committee. It was agreed that this was likely to be a 'mine-field', as anybody from an injured rugby player to a person missing a train due to overloading, could submit applications for exemption. The committee duly vetoed the insertion.

The other comment noted was the change on Section 19 (4), adding the word 'learners'. Again, the committee was happy not to make the insertion, as it involved a process - a driver's licence could not be obtained without first having a learner's licence.

On the general comments made by the AA on Section 19, the following observations by Mr Tsholetsane were made:

On point 1, this was again the issue of adding to the category of persons, and this had already been agreed that Mr Farrow would draft a response to the issue.

On point 2, Mr Tsholetsane assured the committee that no prejudice would be forthcoming from any licence details not appearing on the Department of Transport computer system (NaTIS). Returning to the original testing centre would solve the problem. The said testing centre would issue the person with a letter to the effect that the licence test was valid. An eye-test would then be done, as is normal, and the conversion approved.

On point 3, regarding the 'very poor' who could not afford to convert, Mr Tsholetsane answered that a report on that very issue was forthcoming from the Department.

On point 4, a stolen Identity Document, and any alleged subsequent delay, was not an adequate reason for not converting. Mr Tsholetsane contended that any stolen ID should be reported to the police, and a case number issued. This case number, and the relevant police documentation, must be provided as proof of a stolen ID.

On AA submission on further consideration - the date appearing on the Credit Card Format (CCF) licence was the date of issue of the licence, not the original test date. This would prejudice a person, as the following example will illustrate:

Assuming a person did his/her licence test in 1983. In 1999, the licence was converted to the CCF. The date on the CCF would reflect 1999, not 1983. This implied that the person was a new driver.

In response to this, Mr Tsholetsane conceded that it was again an administrative issue, and did not affect the legislation under review. He assured the committee that the NaTIS system made note of the original test date, so no prejudice was accorded in South Africa. However, the problem occured, as the AA alleged, when outside the country. Many drivers had apparently complained that they had been denied car hire or insurance while in foreign countries. As a result of the CCF licence showing a 'driving period' less than the minimum required by the foreign country, these car hire or insurance services were declined. Mr Tsholetsane, and the committee, agreed that the point was valid, and important, and had to be looked into.

On the last comment made by the AA regarding Regulation 120, it was suggested that those people applying for a Provisional Driving Permit (PrDP) be allowed to use their existing licences during the period of application. Mr Tsholetsane did not agree to this. He cited the example that a person who was denied a PrDP, would simply need to show a receipt to the employer, and cite administrative delays in the Department for the absence of a formal permit.

Mr Cronin suggested that the committee review the issues once more this quarter, before going to final approval and voting.

The meeting was adjourned.

(As introduced in the National Assembly as a section 76 Bill; explanatory summary
of Bill published in Government Gazette No. of )

[B -2003]


[ ] Words in bold type in square brackets indicate omissions from existing
____________ Words underlined with a solid line indicate insertions in existing


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 therewith.

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.

(b) In respect of any notice issued in terms of
paragraph (a), in the case of any person who was unable to apply for
the substitution of 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

(ii) 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 discharge from
such facility release from such institution or his or her return to
the Republic,

be deemed to be a date six months after the date of such
discharge, release or return."; and

. Retrospective validity of licence - par b suggest licences still valid -
. should be rephrased "deemed to be licence"

(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 shall 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

(ii) 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 driving licence before certain date
19. (1) A holder of a driving licence contemplated in section

. 18(6) or (7) shall apply to a driving licence testing centre for the issue of a driving
licence in substitution of his or her existing licence.

(2) An application under subsection (1) shall be made in the
prescribed manner and be accompanied by the prescribed documents.

(3) A driving licence which has not been substituted as
contemplated in subsection (1) becomes invalid on the day after the date

determined by the Minister in terms of section 18(6) or (7), as the case may be.

. (4) Any person whose licence has become invalid in terms of
subsection (3) and who requires a driving licence must apply anew for the issue of a
LEARNER AND DRIVERS licence in terms of section 18.-

Short title
4. This Bill is called the National Road Traffic Amendment Act, 2003, and
section 1(a) must be regarded as having taken effect on 30 April 2003.

One interpretation of Section 18 may be that this Amendment caters for licenses older than ten years which for whatever reason, were not included in the identity document (Military licenses, card type licenses issued pre 1960, etc) and therefore are being legalised again.

With reference to Section 18 (6) and (7) we submit the following;
. A schedule of categories of persons affected should be drawn up to include:
. 1. persons either living or studying abroad since 1998 who have not
returned to the country for a reasonable time in order to facilitate their
license conversion,
2. drivers who are in possession of a valid license but their details are not
reflected on the Department of Transport computer system (NaTIS) -
these drivers are able to verify their driver license details from the
relevant testing I issuing authority. In other words, a driver who has
been prejudiced simply because his I her details have not been
transferred from one government authority to another, should be given
the opportunity to convert to the new license format.
3. the very poor who simply could not afford the cost of converting their
licenses. This would have to be done against a means test, and,
4. drivers who have had their identity document stolen and were
unable to convert their license due to procedural delays at the
Department of Home Affairs.

For further consideration regarding National Department of Transport Policy.

Further we submit that the date of driver license test be shown on the driver's license card. Many drivers travelling abroad have been refused car hire I insurance due to the issue date of the card license being misleading to authorities unfamiliar with the South African system..

The issue date reflected on the first CCF license should be carried through to subsequent licenses in the five year cycle, irrespective of the renewal date. Drivers are aggrieved by being "short changed" time in the five year cycle.

With regard to the renewal of the drivers license card we submit that the provisions of Regulation 120 be applied mutatis mutandis thus obviating the need for a temporary license.


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