Langlaagte licensing and testing station is one of the short-staffed stations after 70 licensing officials were suspended. Picture: Matthews Baloyi / INLSA
Johannesburg - Motorists wanting to renew their vehicle licences or transfer vehicle ownership could be in for long queues over the next few days - or even find facilities closed.

This follows the suspension and dismissal of 70 officials on Monday from the City's motor vehicle licensing centres. But while the corruption crackdown has focused mainly on licensing centres thus far, it appears that driving schools have also been implicated in bribery and dodgy practices.

Michael Sun, member of the mayoral committee for public safety, said the officials had been working with members of the public and driving schools to defraud the city.

The modus operandi was that the officials would offer to clear traffic fines so that motorists could renew their annual licences without paying the fines.

“We found they were transferring the vehicles out of the motorists’ names into a fictitious person’s name, deceased motorists or people who have never owned a vehicle," he said. "They would then return the car into the name of the real owner, who would pay the licence fee without the attached fine."

Officials were caught at testing stations passing people who failed tests, or even writing the tests for them. Driving schools were also paying bribes.

“This is very dangerous," Sun insisted. "There are drivers on the roads who are not properly trained, driving huge trucks. We need to put a stop to this.”


Johannesburg metro police department spokesperson Edna Mamonyane appealed to motorists for patience in the face of long queues. 

Services were likely to be affected at all licensing centres and some testing stations, including Midrand, Randburg, Marlboro, Roodepoort, Langlaagte and Martindale.

“We ask residents to be patient while we are working towards a corruption-free city,” Sun said.

Contingency plans had been made in anticipation of the staff shortages with the hiring of 40 additional staff, he said, and officials from other divisions within the department would also help out.

“Each case has been considered on its merits," said Sun, adding that two people had been dismissed after the seriousness of their offences had been considered.

This follows eight arrests earlier in January, the first of 106 suspected fraudsters. They are out on R5000 bail.

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

Johannesburg metro police department spokesperson Edna Mamonyane also asked people to be patient.

“We are working with a skeleton staff," she said. "It is mostly the vehicle licence departments that are affected. For those simply renewing their car licences, they can go to selected post offices for this in order to avoid queueing.”

The Star