Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo: ANA
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has welcomed the arrest of 15 people involved in putting illegal imported cars on South Africa’s roads.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) national traffic anti-corruption unit, the SAPS special investigations unit and other law enforcement agencies nabbed the suspects, including the alleged mastermind.

They were arrested this week in connection with imported second-hand vehicles which were fraudulently introduced into the national traffic information system (eNatis) as re-builds.

Police officers, members of the Department of Transport’s help desk and staff at vehicle testing stations in the Eastern Cape are among those arrested.

The alleged mastermind was named as a 43-year-old foreigner, Tunde Badmus.

RTMC spokesperson, Simon Zwane, said it was believed the cars came from warehouses in KwaZulu-Natal and more arrests were imminent.

Experts in the car retail industry said the ban on the sale of foreign second-hand cars was introduced to protect the South African motor vehicle industry.

The “grey” vehicles are brought into the country only to be transported to other African countries, but they are being siphoned off in South Africa, and eating into the country’s economy.

“Our fiscus loses about 40% of the value of a new vehicle sale each time an illegal vehicle remains in the country.

“If the average vehicle sales value is R200000, the state loses R80000 if a new vehicle sale is lost as a vehicle has replaced it in the country.

“The loss to the fiscus based on 4000 vehicles per annum would be R320million,” said Lee Dutton, executive director at International Vehicle Identification Desk Southern Africa

Patrick Moeng, of the SA Revenue Service (Sars) executive customs investigations, said there were warehouses to store vehicles coming in from foreign countries before they were transported to neighbouring countries, but South Africans were not allowed to buy them.

Weekend Argus