Driver’s licence card printing machine disaster in South Africa

Myles Illidge21 October 2022

Driver’s licence card printing machine disaster in South Africa


Acting head of the driving licence card account (DLCA), Kagiso Kgosiemang, has revealed that South Africa’s only card printing machine was out of action for four weeks, resulting in a significant backlog.

This comes after MyBroadband reported that the machine had broken down, and transport minister Fikile Mbalula insinuated that the article was inaccurate.

The report relied on insights from the Eastern Cape’s acting chief director for transport regulations, Xolisa Jakula, after the Department of Transport and Road Traffic Management Corporation failed to respond to requests for comment.

Mbalula said he had “noted with concern” reports of the machine breaking down for two weeks, stating that it was operating smoothly.

He then added that the machine sometimes experiences “glitches”.

However, during an interview with eNCA, Kgosiemang revealed that specific components of the machine broke on 16 September 2022 due to a power surge.

“Around the 16th of September, we suffered a power surge which our landlord confirmed had damaged the [uninterruptible power supply] that brings power into the building which we are leasing,” he said.

“The surge caused damage to certain components of the machine.”

According to Kgosiemang, the components took approximately two weeks to repair, which was followed by a scheduled two-week maintenance period.

“In total, the machine was out for four weeks,” he said.

“We had planned a two-week maintenance plan for the machine.”

“With the repair of the components, we lost two weeks. That was unscheduled. However, the other two weeks, as I have said, was always scheduled maintenance,” Kgosiemang added.

He explained that the machine is quite old, meaning it has to be taken off production from time to time for software and hardware maintenance.

Kgosiemang confirmed that the DLCA’s current driver’s licence card orders sit at around 355,000, adding that emergency plans are in place to deal with the backlog.

“The staff is on a 24-hour production cycle. We are producing as many licences as we can, but the 300,000 backlog is not going to be cleared within a week or so,” he said.

“The plan is to catch up with that. We are sitting at the moment with about 355,000 orders for licences.”

Mbalula said in his statement the machine could produce more than 300,000 driver’s licence cards per month — a decrease from his previous claim that it could print 400,000 cards per month.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula

Parliament: The age of the machine shouldn’t be an excuse

BusinessTech reports that the acting chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport, Lisa Mangcu, finds Mbalula’s driver’s licence printing machine’s continuous breakdowns concerning.

Mangcu expressed concerns that breakdowns have caused unnecessary panic and must be resolved instantly.

“The machine is old, but that should not be an excuse,” Mangcu said.

“The transport portfolio should not at any stage be found wanting, given its critical role not only on service delivery but driving the economy to new heights.”

Mbalula’s department announced on Thursday, 20 October 2022, that the machine was up and running.

“The Department wishes to state as a matter of fact that the driving licence card production machine is in full operation,” it said in a statement.

“Motorists who wish to apply or have applied for renewal of their driver’s licence card can be assured that there will be no delays in the printing and issuing of their driving licence card.”

However, this statement does not appear entirely truthful, as Kgosiemang confirmed that the DLCA’s backlog currently sits at around 355,000 cards.