Corruption, chaos, fake licences, officials and opportunists ripping off the public: this is Gauteng’s driving licence system

Gauteng report flags corruption, inefficiencies and government’s failure to address the problems

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09/09/2022 10:31:24

Illustration: Flickr/GovernmentZA/OUTA

Corruption, chaos, fake licences, officials and opportunists ripping off the public: this is Gauteng’s driving licence system 

The Gauteng government has no excuse for not taking immediate action to root out the corruption and inefficiency in the Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) and associated system.

The failure – or refusal – to address such corruption is in itself corruption.

The report was commissioned by the Gauteng Premier’s Office and paints an alarming picture of the Gauteng driving licence system, particularly at the DLTCs. Gauteng released the report summary and recommendations this week.

According to this report, in Gauteng a person can buy a driving licence for R6 500 without bothering to do any test, officials will cancel your arrear licence fees by loading them onto someone else’s account, “runners” have infiltrated the online booking system to book up slots and sell these to motorists at R150 to R200 each, 13 officials have unexplained additional income and assets, and nobody is held to account.

This is a disgrace.

We demand immediate action against these miscreants and the immediate clean-up of the system.

Motorists have repeatedly complained since the booking system was set up that they cannot get slots. We have always maintained that this is due to people on the inside taking up these slots and selling them to the public and driving schools. The system is also widely regarded as corrupt. OUTA has previously raised these issues with government but they have not been addressed.

The report confirms the entrenched corruption.

There are multiple levels of government, departments and entities involved, which limits intervention, enables corruption, and allows entities and departments to blame each other for system failures. The result is a chaotic system, open to abuse, and which does not serve the public.

The report assessed 570 617 bookings, and found that 2 304 mobile numbers were used to make at least five bookings each, with the top 25 numbers used to make collectively 13 158 of those bookings. These bookings are attributed to runners, who charge motorists R150 to R200 a booking. The report does not list the total number of bookings linked to these runners, but these figures indicate that Gauteng motorists paid millions of rand to the runners.

“The system has many flaws which we believe are not difficult to overcome, and the online booking system merely shifted the corruption from the front office at the booking centres to the back-office of the system administrators,” says Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s director of Accountability.

Particularly shocking is the finding that it’s possible to buy a driving licence for R6 500 without needing to pass any test. How many such drivers are on our roads? How will these licences be identified?

Vehicle testing centres were also found to be dysfunctional. How many unroadworthy vehicles are on our roads?

Fake licences and unroadworthy vehicles contribute to road deaths. Those who enable this have blood on their hands.

The systems for uploading eye tests, medical tests for public driving licences and fingerprinting were found to be open to abuse. The Driving Licence Card Account, responsible for the purchase and maintenance of these systems, paid about R23 million in 2021 for an external service provider to maintain these units, up from R16 million just three years earlier. Where is the value for money?

“This report shows the shocking state of our driving licence system. In the light of this report, we are not surprised that South Africa has one of the highest road fatalities in the world,” says Fick.

OUTA calls on the Gauteng Premier’s Office to ensure that the recommendations of this report are implemented, that gaps in legislation are plugged to block such activities, that the system is cleaned up as a matter of urgency, and that the full report is referred to the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority for action.

Sound clip

A sound clip with comment by OUTA's Advocate Stefanie Fick is here.