14 government officials arrested for R60 million licence disc fraud – with more to come

 ·7 Dec 2022

The criminal case against the fourteen Mpumalanga licensing officials accused of illicitly assisting vehicle owners in avoiding payment of vehicle license fees has been postponed to February 2023.

The officials appeared at the Mbombela magistrate court this week, and the case was postponed to 21 February next year.

The suspects faced 603 charges of corruption, fraud, theft, and money laundering charges relating to the scam that has cost the state more than R60 million in lost revenue.

They include former administrators who worked at the department of community of safety and liaison help desk and clerks from registering authorities in Mbombela, Mashishing, and Piet Retief. They are out on R1500 bail each.

The allegations are that they conspired with vehicle fleet owners to defraud the state by writing off vehicle license fees and arrears and accepting payment of part of the applicable fees into their personal bank accounts.

Motorists would then receive vehicle discs that showed that they owed nothing to the state.

The officials were nabbed in a joint operation by the National Anti-Corruption Unit of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Hawks. Investigations are continuing, and more arrests are expected, the government said.

The number of arrests in the case has more than doubled in the four months since government officials were first nailed for the fraud in July 2021.

In July, the Special Investigating Unit announced the arrest of six government officials who were involved in over 10,000 illicit transactions and cost the Department of Transport a combined loss of approximately R60 million.

The SIU probe uncovered that the accused officials manipulated the eNaTIS system in what is known as ‘money dumping of fees’. They would recruit companies or individuals whose Motor Vehicles are heavily in arrears in terms of licensing and penalties incurred due to the failure to pay for licensing.

The suspects would then dump those fees by changing the ownership of the affected vehicles to unsuspecting individuals, deceased individuals or dormant companies.

Some fees were also dumped on government vehicles using a GG authority code. Only government vehicles are licensed using the GG authority code, the SIU said.

Three further arrests were made in September 2021 after further investigations, taking the total to nine. The officials are linked to municipalities and traffic departments operating within them. Five more people have been arrested since, with more to follow, the department said.

Read: Three arrested for R60 million licencing swindle in South Africa

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