South Africa only has one licensed printing machine – here’s why

The only machine capable of printing driving licenses in South Africa experienced some sort of critical breakdown in mid-November. Honestly, we think most of the population did the same after two years of battling the pandemic. The problem is that this machine is still out of order, with a backlog of over 383,000 driver’s licenses.

The South African public called for answers soon after.

Why is there only one license printing machine in the whole SA?

In a recent interview with Newzroom Africa, Layton Beard, spokesman for the Automobile Association of South Africa, detailed the reasoning behind the solitary printing machine. He argues that this is a method used to limit corruption. Its solitary nature prevents fraud at the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Driver’s License Testing Stations (DLTC) from flooding the market with fraudulent license cards.


Read more: Why the NaTIS license renewal system is failing South Africans


“I think you don’t want to have a situation where the printing of license cards is outsourced to DLTCs. You could end up in a worse situation in terms of illegal driver’s licenses in circulation,” Beard says.

He adds that this does not mean that South Africa should not have at least two machines (ie one backup machine).

The machine was supposed to be repaired at the end of December, but this is not the case. It is still out of service, with no indication when it will be up and running again and in print. He is 20 years old, after all. He’s probably feeling a bit overworked.

But there may be some hope. Yesterday the civil society group, Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) called for extend the renewal period of the driving license five to ten years. It would give us even more time to forget how terrible the process itself is. Provided the government agrees to the suggestion, that is.


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