officials face heat over licence 'fees'
Two licensing officers at Mbombela municipality in Mpumalanga have been suspended on allegations of gross misconduct and dishonesty.
The two officials, Richard Phelembe and Mphile Dube, both senior clerical assistants in the licensing department in Nelspruit, are accused of taking bribes and pocketing motor vehicle licence fees.
Municipal spokesman Vusi Sibiya said the two were suspended after taking into account the seriousness of the allegations.
"They have both been suspended with immediate effect, with full benefits, pending an investigation into the matter," Sibiya said.
Phelembe and Dube were arrested by the organised crime unit on January 30 at their municipal offices.
The crime unit pounced on the two men in full view of their workmates.
Their action came after an investigation into criminal activities in the province.
Unit spokesman Leonard Hlathi said the investigations were triggered by complaints that people were being overcharged for services and that some council officials were issuing permits for unroadworthy vehicles.
One complainant allegedly paid R561 to have his car papers duplicated. Yet this was only supposed to cost R61.
Despite paying R561, the complainant was issued with a receipt reflecting R61.
The complainant then called the testing station to verify why had been issued with a receipt reflecting R61 and not what he had paid.
Hlathi said this prompted his crime unit to launch an investigation.
Dube is accused of issuing 24 motor vehicle licences for unroadworthy cars, while Phelembe is accused of fraudulently issuing 10 licences for unroadworthy vehicles.
The two appeared in the Nelspruit magistrate's court last week on fraud charges.
They were each granted bail of R1000 and will appear again in court on February 22.