Taxi scam probe nets 4 officials

CAPE TIMES, ARTICLE BY STAFF REPORTERS

A PROBE into a scam involving the sale of fraudulent operating licences to taxi owners has netted four City of Cape Town officials and could lead to further arrests. The four are accused of bypassing a block on a computer system that they controlled to issue fraudulent operating licences to taxi owners with outstanding arrest warrants for traffic violations. They are believed to have charged a fee for this corrupt, illegal service in a scam valued at R100000 or more that has been going on for the past two years. The scam was uncovered by a probe conducted by the city council’s own special investigations unit and SAPS, said the mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith. Three men were arrested at the city’s licensing office and another person was said to have been arrested at her home while on a leave of absence. The four, as well as some others who had resigned after they were questioned about the case, had managed to circumvent a block on the e-natis computer system which was meant to prevent licences from being issued to taxi operators with outstanding arrest warrants. Smith said the illegal transactions which had been conducted since 2013 were, however, recorded in the system and detected, leading to the investigation. He said the special investigations unit put in some hard work at the weekend to follow up the leads… “interrogated” the paper trail and identified the suspects. Now the four arrested officials face 118 charges of fraud, defeating the ends of justice and corruption. The monetary value placed on the case was at least R100000, Smith said, adding that the taxi owners are operators who bought the fraudulent licences were clearly part of the crimes. They, and the officials who regsigned would all face criminal prosecution, he said. “We are determined to keep our system corruption-free. This is a critical mechanism in terms of vehicle lecensing,” Smith said. South African National Taxi Council national general secretary Vernon Billet said they were happy arrests had been made. “We don’t want our members involved in illegal activities,” he said.