Prominent Mpumalanga businessman appears in court for fraud

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

A prominent Mpumalanga businessman has appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court in connection with R60 million motor vehicle licensing fraud.

Demieties Pieter Botes joined 16 licensing officials and one vehicle fleet owner who were arrested last year in connection with the scandal. The Hawks arrested the 46-year-old man on Tuesday.

Botes faces 261 counts of fraud emanating from transactions conducted in 2017 when officials that worked at the Mbombela provincial helpdesk of the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison fraudulently licensed his fleet of vehicles, which include truck-tractors and tippers.

The Mpumalanga provincial government suffered a loss of R1 005 923.40 in uncollected vehicle license fees because of fraud committed on Botes’s vehicles alone.

He was granted R15 000 bail and the case was postponed to 20 July 2023. The matter has been transferred to the Mbombela Commercial Crimes Court where he will stand trial together with his 16 co-accused.

The arrest followed extensive investigations involving the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) National Anti-Corruption Unit, the Hawks, and the Special Investing Unit.

“The investigation revealed that administration clerks who worked at the Mbombela help desk and other registering authorities manipulated the electronic national administration traffic information system (eNaTIS) between 2018 and 2019 to assist motor vehicle owners to avoid payment of vehicle licence fees and penalties owed to the state.

“Their 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 the unsuspecting individual or companies before vehicle ownership is changed back to the rightful owner without any debt due from the rightful owner,” the RTMC said.

In some instances, fees were dumped onto government vehicles by using a GG authority code. The suspects are jointly facing 603 charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering.

Investigations are continuing and the possibility of further arrests has not been ruled out. –