Vehicle licence renewals take a wrong turn

Rethea Deetlefs paid her annual motor vehicle licence through the eServices portal in February 2017 but when it didn’t arrive she contacted the City’s call centre where the agent said that although she used the correct reference number, the money was deposited to a Pretoria municipal account.

They had no jurisdiction over Tshwane’s accounts and she should contact them for a refund.

“Tshwane said I had to come there to sort it out. I couldn’t and asked for alternatives but they ignored my emails. Clearly they have equally sterling customer service there,” said the Sunningdale resident.

“Over the past year I have made many phone calls and sent numerous emails to Cape Town municipality but still don’t have my R414 refund.

“It is appalling that the City will not accept responsibility when their eServices malfunctions. They must be held to account and my money must be refunded,” said Ms Deetlefs, who was planning to lodge a complaint with the City ombudsman.

But she had no faith that her problem would be resolved.

“I lost money using eServices, and I should be refunded. I work in IT so I find it interesting that no one expressed any alarm at the malfunction. Amazing how nobody gives a damn. Although it’s only R414 the municipality’s behaviour is appalling,” Ms Deetlefs said.

Mayoral committee member for finance, Johan van der Merwe, said the error occurred during a system upgrade.

“It generated an account number that was not linked to a motor vehicle registration (MVR) account, but to a different municipal account which resulted in the incorrect payment.

“We have contacted Ms Deetlefs telephonically and agreed that the funds will be transferred to her municipal account which has been done.

“This matter should not have taken so long to be resolved and we apologise for any inconvenience,” said Mr Van der Merwe who added that controls are in place to prevent this from occurring.

“Where it does happen it should be resolved quickly.”

Ms Deetlefs said Valentia Manuel from MVR contacted her “exactly a year after I paid the money and I should have been referred to her department from the beginning”.

“At any rate, thanks for taking this up. I really appreciate it.”

Alan West was surprised when the teller at the Milnerton Traffic Department in Pienaar Road told him that he had to pay a R30 penalty because he did not renew his licence six weeks before the expiry date.

“How can you be penalised for renewing a current licence?” he asked.

“I renew licences for two vehicles in January and July as my son’s car is registered in my name. This used to be done by post but was stopped when we had to produce an ID and proof of residential address and I have done this four times since the FICA rules came in to effect. It is not unusual to wait in the queue for less than an hour, even with two windows open. The renewal notice was for R537+R42 = R579. I paid cash but the transaction fee is R72: total payment R609; R42+R30 penalty,” Mr West said.

Mr Van der Merwe said that renewal notices for motor vehicle licences with an expiry date of 31 January 2018, to be renewed by 22 February 2018, were printed and posted by the Department of Transport, with an admin fee of R42 reflecting on the renewal notice.

“The E-natis system should have been changed to reflect the new admin fee of R72 from February 1 but it was changed before then in error, causing confusion. The renewal notices reflected the admin fee as R42 and the e-Natis system showed R72.

“Residents were unhappy when they were asked for the R72 admin fee, but the officials needed it to print the licence disc and they could not overwrite the system,” Mr Van der Merwe said.

The admin fee for renewal notices has been hiked a few times: from R30 and now to R72 which is what the national Department of Transport charges to recover the costs of the E-Natis system.

When Mr West went to renew his licence, queuing times on the day were on average 15 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes over the whole day, the councillor said.

Nine cashiers were on duty, and all counters were occupied except when staff went on breaks, which are “staggered to minimise inconvenience to the public”.

Mr Van der Merwe confirmed that the Pienaar Road facility is too small to accommodate extra cashiers.

“However, the City is planning to rent space at the new Table Bay Mall for another (MVR) facility and municipal accounts office, hopefully by July 1, and relieve the pressure at Milnerton.

“Although there are no chairs for the disabled and elderly at Pienaar Road, the queue walker and security staff look out for them and they are fast-tracked either to counter 1 or to our bulk window where one of our cashiers will assist them,” Mr Van der Merwe said.