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Durban - Twelve suspects - including police officers - allegedly involved in the fraudulent registration of imported second-hand vehicles were arrested in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has said. 

According to RTMC spokesperson, Simon Zwane, pre-dawn raids took place in East London, King Williams Town and Komga that also led to 400 vehicles being confiscated. 

The arrests followed a year-long investigation initiated by the RTMC's National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit (NTACU), said Zwane. 

The investigation identified hundreds of imported second-hand vehicles that had been fraudulently introduced into the national traffic information system (Natis) as rebuilds.

"A task teams comprising members of NTACU, the Eastern Cape branch of the Special Investigations Unit and the South African Police Services' anti-corruption unit, crime intelligence, and the vehicle crime investigation unit conducted further investigations and identified key suspects involved in the syndicate," said Zwane. 

The syndicate involved foreign nationals, officials from the Eastern Cape department of transport's help desk, SAPS members and vehicle testing stations.

The suspects allegedly colluded in an elaborate scheme where imported second-hand vehicles destined for neighbouring countries were being fraudulently sold and registered in South Africa.

The syndicate allegedly colluded to fraudulently produce official documents such as traffic registers, police clearance certificates and roadworthy certificates to enable the vehicles to be introduced on the eNatis system as rebuilds. 

Twelve suspects, including three Eastern Cape department of transport help desk officials, two SAPS members from the vehicle clearance office, one official from the Komga registering authority, one examiner from a privately-own vehicle testing station and four middlemen (runners) were arrested and are expected to appear for bail applications at Komga Magistrate's Court on Friday.

More arrests were expected, said Zwane. 

"Members of the public who have information about the sale and registration of imported second-hand vehicles are urged to assist the investigation by contacting the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit on 0861 400 800 on via email: [email protected] All information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality," said Zwane. 

African News Agency (ANA)