licences scheme

THE government is to introduce a programme in schools that will see South Africans acquire a driver's licence when they matriculate.

THE government is to introduce a programme in schools that will see South Africans acquire a driver's licence when they matriculate.

During an interview with Sowetan, Transport Minister Sbusiso Ndebele said it was unacceptable that only seven million South Africans had driver's licences in a country of 49 million people. This led to many unlicensed drivers.

"To rectify this, we have already held discussions with the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga with a view to introducing road safety as a subject in schools.

"We want one period a week during the time set aside for life skills periods to teach young people about road safety. By the time the pupils are in Grade 11, they should write a test that will lead to them getting a learner's licence and a driver's licence when they finish Grade 12."

Ndebele said the government would pioneer a programme that would roll out car simulators to schools to teach grades 11 and 12 pupils how to drive. He said the government would issue a tender for a "smarter" smart-card-type driver's licence.

The original smart-card-type licence contract of R270million five years ago was awarded by former transport minister Mac Maharaj to Prodiba, a French company in which President Jacob Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik's company Kobitech held a 33percent stake.

Ndebele yesterday said the current contract expired in April and had been extended to December 31 for the last time.

"We are going to tender for a new service provider, who will bring out a new, much smarter card licence, that will 'talk' to what Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will produce at Home Affairs.

"That's one thing that we want to introduce by December. By merely swiping, the authorities will be able to see how many tickets you have or whether you are wanted in connection with any outstanding court cases," he said.

The new system will help implement the demerit system under which points will be deducted from drivers after every road traffic offence until the licence is confiscated.

Drivers start at 100 points and lose points every time they commit an offence. Once their points are finished, the police confiscate the offender's licence for three months. At the end of the exemption period, the driver has to re-apply.

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