Cape Town -

The City of Cape Town says its extensive anti-corruption systems have exposed a criminal employee and his civilian co-conspirator, who have both been convicted.

The city said it had brought to book “the mastermind behind a syndicate that defrauded the city’s motor vehicle registration department of approximately R700 000”.

Hilton van Rooyen and his accomplice, Shilton Daniels, were convicted of fraud and corruption in the Bellville Regional Court recently and were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for five years.

Ian Neilson, executive deputy mayor and mayco member for finance, explained that a probe began in mid-September 2011 after the city’s special investigations unit was notified of alleged fraud in which stolen or fraudulent cheques were used to pay for the renewal of licences at the Goodwood Motor Vehicle Registration Centre.

“Follow-up investigations revealed that Daniels would liaise with his contact, a former city employee at the Goodwood Motor Vehicle Registration Centre, about the vehicles that required licensing or renewals and Van Rooyen would do the transactions on behalf of the vehicle owners” - whose legal cash the pair would pocket.

He warned people to remain vigilant at all times to avoid becoming victims of fraud, and to not hand money to people who claimed to be able to settle outstanding tariffs (or fines) at a reduced rate.

“Do not pay alleged officials who claim that, for a fee, they can reduce your bill, and ensure that your cheque book is kept in a secure place to prevent it from being stolen and used fraudulently.”

Neilson said criminals were “constantly innovating” to try to get their hands on parts of the city’s R34 billion budget.

“We are extremely vigilant and have a number of controls in place to detect fraud,” he explained.

These included the special investigative unit, a forensics department and a range of other experts.

“What is key is that we constantly have to tighten up our controls. As we do so, so criminals who want to defraud the city are becoming increasingly innovative, and so we, in turn, have to tighten controls more again,” Neilson said.

“In order for fraud to work, you need someone on the ‘outside’ but also someone on the ‘inside’. So, for example, we rotate staff,” he explained.

Cape Argus