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Licence cheats back in the spotlight

02/08/2013. An examiner at the Akasia Testing Station is escorted by the Metro Police after she was caught writing a learners licence on behalf of a candidate. Picture: Alex Mitchley

02/08/2013. An examiner at the Akasia Testing Station is escorted by the Metro Police after she was caught writing a learners licence on behalf of a candidate. Picture: Alex Mitchley

Published Sep 12, 2013

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Corruption in the issuing of driving licences is back in the spotlight following the arrest and conviction of law enforcement officers and learner drivers over the past few months.

Western Province traffic chief Kenny Africa said two law enforcement officers who had been charged with corruption in Beaufort West were sentenced to five years in prison two weeks ago.

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The officers were demanding bribes from long-distance taxi drivers in exchange for allowing their unroadworthy vehicles to continue their journeys.

The AA said between 20 and 40 percent of South African drivers did not have a valid driving licence.

“Insurance estimates from the late 1980s and early 1990s were that 20 to 25 percent of drivers on South African roads didn’t have a valid licence, and the AA raised the spectre that the overall figure might have exceeded 30 percent and perhaps edged over 40 percent in a worst-case scenario.”

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

But the AA also pointed out it was almost impossible to establish the real scale of the problem due to improperly-issued licences being indistinguishable from genuine ones on e-Natis.

“The only way to check if a licence is genuine is to examine the supporting documentation at the original testing station, and with almost 10 million licensed drivers on our roads, that would be a mammoth task.”

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Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security for the City of Cape Town, said the city did not tolerate corrupt officials and took bribery allegations extremely seriously.

“In any cases where City of Cape Town staff are found to be involved in bribery, they are dealt with in terms of the disciplinary code and, where applicable, criminal cases are opened against them. Recently two members of staff were dismissed for such offences.”

Bosman said officials had also reported two incidents of attempted cheating and bribery.

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The first took place in May at the Gordon’s Bay testing centre where a man failed his learner’s licence test and tried to bribe an officer for a pass.

“The applicant handed the examiner a small plastic bank bag with R100 notes in it and tried to bribe her. She immediately reported the matter to her superior, showed him the plastic bag and the test, and explained the attempted bribe.”

There was R1200 in the bag, and the man was arrested for bribery. He pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to three years in prison or 1 000 hours of community service to be served before the end of December.

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The second incident happened in July at the Goodwood testing centre where an examiner caught an applicant using a “cheat sheet”.

Bosman said the applicant was asked to stop writing, the police were called and the applicant was arrested.

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said it was hard to determine whether incidents of corruption and bribery were on the rise.

“However they are of grave concern as they threaten the safety of others by unleashing unskilled and untrained killers on the roads.

“One incident of such fraud is one too many, and where we are made aware of such, we take swift and decisive action to bring those perpetrating these crimes to justice.” - Cape Argus

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