Johannesburg – Seven City licensing department officials have been arrested for suspected fraud to the value of R14.7 million.
The three suspects from the Sandton licensing department and four suspects from the Martindale bulk licensing department were arrested on Tuesday by the Hawks on charges of fraud.
City mayor Herman Mashaba said the city had through investigations identified a total of 106 allegedly corrupt licensing centre officials who would be arrested in the coming days and "face the full might of the law".
“Each of the suspects will be immediately suspended pending swift disciplinary processes by the city," he promised. "Between January 2008 and February 2016, 972 alleged fraudulent transactions with a total value of R14 717 444 were identified within the city.”
Investigations were conducted by former Gauteng Hawks general Shadrack Sibiya, who is now head of the city’s forensic department. Through them, the municipality determined that the problem was not limited to the City of Johannesburg, Masahba said. Between January 2008 and February 2016, these fraudulent transactions were valued at R155 074 672 nationally.
“Corruption is deplorable and steals from the poor," he said. "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 those responsible for its existence to book.
'I am proud to say this administration is living up to that promise'
“Today’s 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.”
According to Mashaba, these syndicates colluded with certain licensing officials to perform illegal transactions on the licensing computer system. This included collusion to illegally allow motorists to obtain driving licenses and licence discs, and also register vehicles.
Licensing officials would then pocket cash that would have ordinarily been paid to the city and used for much needed service delivery.
“I would like to thank Mr Sibiya and his team for their exemplary work," the mayor said. "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.”
Mashaba warned that the days when corrupt officials would get a gentle slap on the wrist or be shifted to a different department were over. Those found guilty of corruption would be prosecuted and stolen money reclaimed, he said.