Motorists who fail to change to the new credit-card style licence by Friday will have to retake their learner’s and driver’s licence, the Department of Transport said on Tuesday.

Motorists who fail to change to the new credit-card style licence by Friday will have to retake their learner’s and driver’s licence, the Department of Transport said on Tuesday.

Lisa Mangcu, manager of road traffic operation police at the Department of Transport, told CARtoday.com that the licence in the identity book would be illegal. However, in January Mangcu told CARtoday.com that the old licence was still valid and just the ID book part of it was not acceptable. He said motorists who had not changed would still be legal, but would be fined for not having the right licence.

But Mangcu said on Wednesday this had changed. “The department took legal advice on the matter and we realised the implication is that whole identity book licence was invalid according to our legislation. Motorists who have not changed to the new licence will have to redo their licences,’ he said.

Motorists will have to ensure that their applications are in before Saturday. About 1,4 million motorists must still change their licences with three days to go.

Mangcu said those who obtained their licences in the former homelands of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei have been given a reprieve until September 1. “The details of motorists from the former homelands have not yet been captured on the National Information Traffic System. This was due to a lot of bureaucratic delays and not the fault of the motorists so we have decided to give them a chance,” he said.

Prisoners, those who have been in hospital for a long period or working in foreign government missions overseas would have an extension of six months from the time they leave hospital, prison or return to the country. “If you have been working abroad and were not able to apply for the new licence then you can apply to the transport MEC in your province for a reprieve,” said Mangcu.

reported that prisoners in Pretoria took the minister of transport to the Pretoria High Court last month, claiming that they were unable to convert their licences because they were in prison. The court found in their favour.

Mangcu said: “All motorists had five years and six months to get their licence that is a fair opportunity. If they had applied on time there would be no problems and no long queues,” he said.