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Stop trying to buy drivers' licences

By unknown | Jan 29, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

A lot will be written and said about Presley Chweneyagae over the next few months.

The youngster, only 22 years old, gained international fame last year after the film Tsotsi.

He gave a compelling performance as an Aids-orphaned thug, and the movie won an Oscar for best foreign film.

Chweneyagae went on to make us all proud by winning the best actor award at the Black Movie Awards. In winning the award he beat such venerable names as superstar Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jnr and Tyrese Gibson.

Now Chweneyagae has appeared in court accused of trying to convert a drivers' licence from the Ivory Coast to a South African licence. His face is all over the front pages of newspapers and posters, and all for the wrong reasons.

Is he guilty as charged? We will not know until the case has run its course. In the meantime, there will be all sorts of talk about him.

The case, however, once again reminded me of the very strange way that so many people from our communities treat drivers' licences. We seem to be scared of taking a drivers' licence test and many people choose the troubling route, and buy a fake one. Why?

Let me give you an example. In the early 1990s I knew this professional woman in her 30s who held two university degrees. She was academically-gifted, and yet she was scared of sitting for a learners' licence. Why?

"They are going to fail me," she would say.

When I went and got mine she asked me who I had "spoken to". No one, I said. I had merely read my books and written the test and passed. She would not believe me and said that it was because I was apparently "born lucky".

In the 1980s buses full of professionals would travel to the former Lebowa and KwaNdebele to buy fake drivers' licences.

Many of the people who came back with these licences could not even drive a car! Today, our law enforcement agencies are still dealing with thousands of fake drivers' licences from that era.

The problem is endemic and we need to deal with it somehow. There is a culture that seems to say that it is okay to buy a drivers' licence, though the same people say that it is absolutely wrong to do crime. So which is which? Buying a licence is a crime.

Consider what the implications of buying a drivers' licence are. If the person driving a car bought their licence, then surely it means that they do not know all the rules and regulations of the road?

That means that they are prone to driving recklessly and cutting corners. Their chances of ramming into someone are much greater.

I find a lot of people who will say something like: "I don't need to take a test. I can drive."

This is utter rubbish. Driving a car is more than just turning the steering wheel. It also requires ensuring that the driver is safe on the road - and that others are safe too.

This laissez faire attitude to driving is what leads to so many road accidents here.

I hope that Chweneyagae is innocent of the charge against him. I pray that when these charges are dropped he goes to a testing station, makes an appointment and gets his legitimate drivers' licence.

In the meantime, good people, please stop trying to buy drivers' licences.


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