12 Tshwane licensing officials suspended for alleged fraud

Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has suspended 12 vehicle licensing department officials who allegedly defrauded the city of millions through their involvement in a “dumping” syndicate, it said on Monday.

 They were allegedly “dumping” outstanding licence fees and penalties from one motorist registered on the eNatis system to another, usually a dead person or an inactive record. The officials perpetrating the scam would get an agreed percentage of the “dumped” fee.

“This means that the city is unable to recover some of the monies owed to it from a multitude of traffic violations,” Mayor Solly Msimanga said.

He said the city had identified about 100 officials who were linked to the fraud and corruption. Investigations into the extent of their activities and what charges they would face were still underway.

Msimanga’s announcement came a week after he revealed that government departments and residents owed the city nearly R9bn for services, as at June 30, 2016. Of this amount an estimated R5.9bn, or 68%, was uncollectable, he said at the time.

Last month, Gauteng roads and transport MEC Ismail Vadi announced that an extensive investigation into financial irregularities at both municipal and provincial licensing centres had been concluded. Implicated officials would face disciplinary action and/or criminal charges.

The City of Johannesburg had suspended 71 officials.

Vadi said the investigation showed a clear trend of syndicated crime that probably involved a further 394 officials in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng, and the West Rand. They were suspected of involvement in 2791 fraudulent transactions.

“The total financial loss to government is estimated to be R42m,” Vadi said at the time.

In 2013, when the investigation began, it emerged that two department employees had created “ghost users” on the eNatis system to defraud the licence fees fund. After a broader investigation into all the licensing centres, it became apparent that more officials were likely involved.

The eNatis system prevents the renewal of a motor vehicle licence if there are any outstanding fees or fines linked to a motorist’s identity number.

The “elaborate, syndicated scam” involved government employees, private individuals, transport companies, used car dealerships, vehicle registration companies, taxi operators, and businesses.

Nineteen officials from licensing centres in Kliptown in Soweto, Johannesburg, and Mabopane and Temba in Tshwane were suspended and were facing prosecution for 304 fraudulent transactions involving R6.2m, Vadi said.

The department would reinstate the “dumped” amounts onto the accounts of the motorists who had incurred them.