Limpopo investigation reveals huge car, driver's licence scam

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Polokwane - The involvement of examiners in a massive licence scam at privately run vehicle and driver test centres in Limpopo is a disgrace, says Roads and Transport MEC Pinky Kekana.

Kekana has closed five test stations - one in Polokwane and four in the Vhembe district - following their failure to comply with the South African National Standard (SANS) code of practice when testing vehicles.

Department spokesperson Clarissa Naidoo said the temporary closure, which came into effect last month, should serve as a warning that corruption would not be tolerated.

"The closure was effected because testing times on the test reports were altered to suit the examiners, and roadworthy certificates were not issued in the correct sequence.

"In one case, according to the test report, an examiner started testing a second vehicle while he was supposed to have been busy with the first one. In another case, an official allowed administrative processes to be handled by an assistant while he was supposed to do it himself, which is not permissible,'' said Naidoo.

The stations are Thohoyandou, Motor Town and Vhavenda test stations in Thohoyandou, the Louis Trichardt test station and BB Truck and Trailer test station in Polokwane.

According to a report by the inspectorate of the national Department of Transport, the centres did not operate in accordance with the formalised quality system; no review audits were conducted; they did not have all mandatory SANS documents; management representatives were doing both testing and monitoring, thereby acting like both player and referee; and they were found to be testing more vehicles than was allowed.

Kekana said vehicles that were not roadworthy placed all road users at risk.

"Thousands of lives are lost due to people acting corruptly by declaring unroadworthy vehicles to be fit. Those who are responsible will face the full might of the law, and no stone will be left unturned in uprooting corruption where it rears its ugly head," Kekana said.

Cases of corruption, fraud and maladministration had been opened and were being handled by a combined task team comprising the national and provincial departments of transport, the police's organised crime and special investigating units, and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Kekana said 742 driver's licences had been cancelled after an investigation by the police revealed that applicants had passed without having their eyes examined or writing their tests, and the wrong calculation of marks by examiners, among other things.

According to Naidoo, the department had launched a further investigation to determine how many fraudulent learner's and driver's licences, as well as vehicle roadworthy certificates, had been issued at the five stations.

"We are definitely verifying all licences from those stations," she added.

"Two suspended examiners at BB Truck and Trailer test station allegedly received between R500 and R3 500 in cash for issuing the licences. Some people issued with licences did not even live in the province," she said.