Minister Peters's surprise visit to Langlaagte

Monday, June 2, 2014

Johannesburg – A security officer at the Langlaagte Licensing and Testing Department got the shock of her life when Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, accompanied by Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, conducted a surprise visit there on Monday.

Peters arrived at the centre – which is notorious for corruption – unannounced, walked into the manager’s office and asked for an impromptu tour to see if all the services that are being offered are run efficiently and effectively. Most importantly, she wanted to see that the services are corruption free and done by the book.

After asking the Minister and the MEC who they were, the security officer, still embarrassed at being unable to identify them and initially trying to limit their access to the centre, told her supervisor that the minister and the MEC had arrived for a surprise visit before escorting them to the centre's manager.

SAnews followed the Minister and the MEC as they interacted with the station manager, who was asked tough questions on what he was doing to curb corruption at the centre. The Minister and the MEC also took time to observe individuals who had just passed their learner licence exams and those who were behind the wheel, ready to get tested by official examiners.

After her tour, the Minister told SAnews that in a bid to win the fight against road carnage and corruption on the roads, it was important to go to all licensing and testing centres that have been identified as problematic across the country.

“I am sure you are aware that we have got a target as South Africa, set by the United Nations, of ‘365 days of road safety’ to reduce the carnage on our roads by 50%.

“What we have observed is that we have people who are on our roads, who are not well trained - people who are getting illegal documents to drive on the roads of South Africa.

“Part of the work that we need to do is that we need to deal with crime and corruption,” she said.

Minister Peters said that in South Africa, the top 20 vehicle testing and licensing centres that are havens of corruption are in Gauteng.

She said the Langlaagte centre was one of the most problematic, which needed to be dealt with as it serviced Johannesburg – the country’s economic hub – where vehicles were being bought in large volumes.

The centre has often made headlines over complaints from motorists that they were being forced to pay bribes by driving school operators and examiners, and that when they refused, they were told that they would be failed.

The Minister also said following the transport summit that was held last October, part of the recommendations included looking at a review of regulations to tighten “loopholes” that make it possible for corruption to happen.

“We are also busy trying to get our systems right by creating an electronic booking system, where it would actually minimise you [as a motorist] having to go to one particular centre in this vast country. You can then be able to book through your cell phone, iPad or computer, [and see] which station in this country has space for you to go [do your test], and on which dates.

“We want to make service delivery easy, but we also want to close the loopholes that create an environment for corruption in our testing centres,” she said. –