Gauteng close to cracking R42m licensing scam
The Gauteng government has concluded a wide-ranging investigation into financial irregularities at 34 provincial licensing centres, identifying 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 Gauteng will be suspended, and criminal charges could be instituted against the private individuals and businesses that participated in the scam, Gauteng roads and transport MEC 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 be charged for 2791 fraudulent transactions. The total financial loss to the government is estimated to be R42-million,” Vadi said.
The officials involved had been shifting unpaid fines or outstanding license fees to deceased road users..
The province-wide crackdown followed the arrest of 15 council officials and 71 suspensions.
The City of Johannesburg announced yesterday a further seven licensing officials had been arrested on fraud and corruption charges and appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Court.
Mayor Herman Mashaba has promised a crackdown against corruption in the city, appointing former Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya to head an internal investigative unit.
Vadi dismissed assertions that his department or former city administrations had “taken no substantive action” against licence centre fraud.
The 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 probe in 2015.
The department would work with metros and municipal departments to ensure the continuation of vehicle services due to the redeployment of staff, Vadi said.
– TMG Digital/BusinessLIVE
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