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15/07/2015

Bail for Cape Town licensing officials facing 118 charges

News24 - Cape Town - Four vehicle licensing officials have been released on R3 000 bail after appearing in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on 118 charges of fraud, corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

Farouk Martin, Sivuyile Charlie and Xolani Qhinga were arrested outside their workplace at the Cape Town Civic Centre on Monday, while Lwandiso Mawisa was arrested at home after being booked off sick.

The accused, who are all employees of the City of Cape Town’s motor vehicle registration department, were taken into custody following a near two-month investigation into “irregular transactions” involving the issuing of licences to owners of vehicles who had administration marks on the e-Natis System.

Admin marks, introduced by the council in 2013 as part of a package of interventions to recoup outstanding fines, are given to motorists who have been issued with a warrant of arrest for failing to appear in court for traffic violations, the City explained in a statement.

This prevents the motorist from renewing a vehicle licence, driving licence, motor vehicle registration or professional driving permit.

Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith said it appears the suspects circumvented the system.

Charge sheet might get longer

“One can only assume that there was an exchange of cash or other favours to make this possible.

“Currently, the case docket includes 118 charges of which 74 involve taxi owners. But there is a good chance that the charge sheet will get even longer as the investigation continues,” he said.

The incidents came to light after the motor vehicle registration department dismissed an employee for an irregular transaction in May.

An internal audit followed, after which the City’s Special Investigations Unit along with the police investigated the matter.

Seven officials in the licensing section were identified during the investigation, resulting in three resignations.

The City said these officials would be prosecuted, along with any motorists implicated in the case.

At least 25 motorists have already been identified as possible co-conspirators, but the investigation is still under way.

The case was postponed to September 22 for further investigation.



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