Gauteng probe uncovers syndicate involved in clearing unpaid fines for bribes
Karl Gernetzky | 2017-01-26 15:35:56.0
Newly elected city mayor Herman Mashaba has promised a crack-down against corruption in Johannesburg. Photo file.
Image by: Simphiwe Nkwali
The Gauteng government has concluded a wide-ranging investigation into financial irregularities at 34 provincial licensing centres‚ indentifying a syndicate that could involve hundreds of officials who have been accepting bribes in exchange for clearing unpaid fines.
In coming days 19 officials at licensing and testing centres across the province will be suspended‚ and criminal charges could be instituted against the private individuals and businesses that participated in the scam‚ Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi said during a briefing in Johannesburg.
“The investigation shows a clear trend of syndicated crime that probably involves a further 394 officials from (the centres) in Tshwane‚ Ekurhuleni‚ Sedibeng and West Rand‚ who could possibly by charged for 2‚791 fraudulent transactions. The total financial loss to the government is estimated to be R42m‚” Vadi said.
The officials involved had been shifting unpaid fines or outstanding licence fees to other road users‚ usually deceased‚ with the province wide crackdown following the arrest of 15 officials in the City of Johannesburg‚ and a further 71 suspensions.
The City of Johannesburg announced on Thursday a further seven licensing officials had been arrested on fraud and corruption charges and appeared in the Johannesburg specialised commercial court.
Newly elected city mayor Herman Mashaba has promised a crack-down against corruption in the city‚ appointing former Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya to head an internal investigative unit.
Vadi has however dismissed assertions his department or former city administrations had “taken no substantive action” against licence centre fraud‚ following criticism of the department due to the speed at which the new administration had begun making arrests.
The wide-ranging investigation follows the discovery in 2013 of “ghost users” that were created by two employees to defraud the licence fees fund. These officials were dismissed‚ leading to the more extensive provincial probe initiated in 2015.
The department would work with various metro and municipal departments to ensure continuation of vehicle services‚ which could include additional temporary staff or redeployment of staff‚ Vadi said.
– TMG Digital/BusinessLIVE