Corrupt officials fuel taxi clashes

The SIU makes damning findings after conducting a probe

The bloody taxi wars in Limpopo can be partly blamed on corrupt officials in the province’s transport department, who have been issuing fraudulent public transport operating licences.

This is one of the damning findings of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), after a probe into the department. The SIU also found that contracts were awarded irregularly by some people working for the state to service providers not fully compliant with tax laws and in some instances service providers defrauded the

It was uncovered that the signatures on the operating licences were forged and that the licences were not registered on the operating licence system.

Some of the face-value documents used to produce the fake operating licences – such as registration certificates and temporary driver’s licences – were stolen during breakins at departmental and municipal offices.

“Government Printing Works issued some of the face values that were used to print fraudulent operating licences to provinces like Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and the Northern Cape,” the SIU report states.

“It has been established that those fraudulent operating licences have led to conflicts between the legal and the illegal operators, which cause taxi violence,” it adds.

The crime- fighting body said the investigation revealed that a criminal syndicate working outside the department was behind the bogus operating licences.

About 43 cases have been prepared by the SIU in connection with the illegal issuing of operating licences.

“We have investigated 68 fraudulent public transport operating licences, which were confiscated from taxi operators by the Mpumalanga traffic officers between December 2017 and April 2018,” the report states, adding that cases should be referred to the police.

“All fraudulent operating licences confiscated by traffic officers should be handed over to the department’s anti-fraud unit officials who will investigate and refer the criminal cases t o the police,” the SIU recommended.

The SIU also investigated municipalities that were not paying over revenue to the department, including Modimolle, Bela-Bela, Thabazimbi and Musina.
The department’s Joel Seabi said the MEC was studying the report.

“The MEC has received the forensic report and acted in accordance with the recommendations submiting it to the South African Police Service in the
province for processing of the criminal part of the findings; written to the premier for consideration and possible guidance on the disciplinary processes part of the recommendations,” he said.

“We may not treat or delve deep into the details of the report as it is subject to further handling in terms of the law of this land,” he added.

By George Matlala

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