Now Hawks com­ing for rot­ten mo­torists

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

JOBURG mo­torists and com­pa­nies who bribed li­cens­ing of­fi­cials to ob­tain driv­ing li­cences and li­cence discs and to regis­ter ve­hi­cles, be­ware – you are prob­a­bly the next to face the wrath of the law.

Fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s ar­rest of the first seven of 106 sus­pected fraud­sters in the City of Joburg’s li­cens­ing depart­ment, the city has warned that com­pa­nies and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als who paid th­ese bribes could also be ar­rested.

The city has es­ti­mated that it lost up to R14.7 mil­lion through th­ese fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions.

“Th­ese of­fi­cials pock­eted the cash that should have been paid to the city and utilised for much­needed ser­vice de­liv­ery,” said mayor Her­man Mashaba. The city had iden­ti­fied the cor­rupt li­cens­ing cen­tre of­fi­cials, who would be ar­rested in the com­ing days.

“All the sus­pects will be im­me­di­ately sus­pended pend­ing swift dis­ci­plinary pro­cesses by the city. Be­tween Jan­uary 2008 and Fe­bru­ary 2016, 972 al­legedly fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions at a to­tal value of R14.7 mil­lion were iden­ti­fied within the city,” he said.

Through an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­ducted by former Gaut­eng Hawks head Gen­eral Shadrack Sibiya, who is now head of the city’s foren­sic depart­ment, it was de­ter­mined that the prob­lem was not lim­ited to Joburg. Be­tween Jan­uary 2008 and Fe­bru­ary 2016, th­ese fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions were val­ued at R155m na­tion­wide.

“Cor­rup­tion is de­plorable and steals from the poor. When I took of­fice, I de­clared cor­rup­tion pub­lic en­emy num­ber one. When I an­nounced Shadrack Sibiya as the new head of the city’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, I promised to root out cor­rup­tion in the city and to bring to book those re­spon­si­ble for its ex­is­tence. I am proud to say this ad­min­is­tra­tion is liv­ing up to that prom­ise,” said Mashaba.

“Th­ese ar­rests, made pos­si­ble through close col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the city’s anti-cor­rup­tion unit and the Hawks, form part of a planned strike against the crim­i­nal syn­di­cates and cor­rupt li­cens­ing of­fi­cials in the city who have been op­er­at­ing li­cens­ing scams.”

Th­ese syn­di­cates col­luded with cer­tain li­cens­ing of­fi­cials to per­form il­le­gal trans­ac­tions on the li­cens­ing com­puter sys­tem.

“I would like to thank Mr Sibiya and his team for their ex­em­plary work. I urge them to con­tinue root­ing out cor­rup­tion within the city, at every level, with­out fear or favour. I would also like to thank the MMC for pub­lic safety, coun­cil­lor Michael Sun, for his role in en­sur­ing the suc­cess of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­spite fac­ing re­sis­tance within coun­cil from mem­bers of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion who de­nied the ex­is­tence of any cor­rup­tion,” said the mayor.

He warned that the days when cor­rupt of­fi­cials would get a gen­tle slap on the wrist or be shifted to a dif­fer­ent depart­ment were over.

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