Mpumalanga businessman in court for car licensing scam

Prominent Mpumalanga businessman Demieties Pieter Botes appeared in the Mbombela magistrate’s court on Tuesday for his alleged role in a vehicle licensing scam that cost the provincial transport department about R60-million.

Botes was released on R15 000 bail and the case was postponed to July 20.

Botes joins 16 licensing officials and fleet owners who were nabbed in 2022 and jointly face 603 charges of corruption, fraud, and money-laundering.

Simon Zwane, Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesperson, said the 46-year-old faces 261 counts of fraud emanating from transactions conducted in 2017 when officials that worked at the Mbombela provincial help desk of the department of community safety, security and liaison fraudulently licensed his fleet of vehicles, which include trucks, tractors and tippers.

He said in respect of Botes’ case, the “Mpumalanga provincial government suffered a loss of R1 005 923.40 in uncollected vehicle licence fees”.

“The investigation revealed that administration clerks who worked at the Mbombela help desk and other registering authorities manipulated the eNatis system between 2018 and 2019 to assist motor vehicle owners to avoid payment of vehicle licence fees and penalties owed to the state,” said Zwane.

Zwane added that the group’s modus operandi involved changing the ownership of affected motor vehicles into the name of an unsuspecting individual, a deceased person or a dormant company.

“Fees and arrear penalties will then be passed on to the unsuspecting individual or companies before vehicle ownership is changed back to the rightful owner without any debt due from the rightful owner.”

The matter has been transferred to the Mbombela Commercial Crimes Court where Botes will stand trial with 16 co-accused.

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