Minister Blade Nzimande has welcomed the remedial actions following the investigation into the illegal conversion of Toyota Quantum panel vans. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Port Elizabeth - The Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, has noted the Public Protector’s findings and welcomes the remedial actions following the systemic investigation into the illegal conversion of Toyota Quantum panel vans from food carriers into minibus taxis for public transport.

The Public Protector's report was released on Thursday. "This report by the Public Protector vindicates us because as the Department, we always held the view that the conversion of the panel vans for the purpose of carrying passengers was illegal,” Nzimande said. 

The Minister said that the only conversions or modifications that are lawful are those done by manufacturers, builders and importers who are duly authorised by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) of the South African Bureau of Standards.

“When the Department of Transport was made aware of the illegal conversion in the course of 2009, the Department informed all agencies responsible for law enforcement to impound all the illegally converted vehicles,” he said.

The Department of Transport will immediately bring to the attention of all relevant stakeholders the outcome and implications of these remedial actions, including the taxi industry, provinces, vehicle manufacturers, vehicle financiers as well as the Road Traffic Management Corporation, which is the custodian of the eNatis system.

"The Special Investigation Unit (SIU), at the request of the department and based on the December 2017 proclamation, is already investigating allegations of fraud and the manipulation of the eNatis system. 

"We will also bring to their attention the Public Protector’s finding and remedial action to investigate all cases of fraud and corruption against the staff at the licensing offices responsible for the administering the eNATIS system, who may have manipulated the system to illegally register panel vans as passenger-carrying minibus taxi,” Nzimande said.

The Department of Transport said it had already established systems and platforms to implement all the remedial actions in the report and would submit the implementation plan and a progress report to the Public Protector as directed.

He also said that the department would work closely with the taxi industry to ensure "that their businesses are not negatively affected by this process". 

African News Agency (ANA)