Testing stations closed

Alex Matlala

Hundreds of would-be drivers in Tzaneen and NkowaNkowa were stranded when driving schools shut down the testing stations.

Operators used trucks and light vehicles to block the road to the testing grounds yesterday and on Monday.

They were protesting against a "first step to stop" bribery and favouritism among testing officials of the Greater Tzaneen municipality and the All Nation Driving School.

The protesters accuse traffic officials of giving All Nation preference. The protesters were later joined by drivers licence applicants who accused testing officials of demanding bribes from them. The applicants claimed they were forced to pay bribes of at least R800 and then to queue for hours without being tested.

"We know the names of the officials who are demanding bribes and we are prepared to disclose their names," said Maile Sekhula of Mokgoloboto village outside Tzaneen.

Sowetan published an article recently in which learner and drivers livcence applicants claimed that they were forced to pay between R500 and R800 bribes for licences and between R200 and R500 for a learners'-application form.

By noon yesterday some of the protesters where chanting anti-corruption slogans, while others where meeting municipal representatives.

Hundreds of applicants who came to be tested had to return home.

On Monday the NkowaNkowa testing stations were closed because of the protest action.

Municipal spokesman Solly Mkhatjoa confirmed that bribery and favouritism were rampant among driving schools and testing officials.

"Yes, we know it is happening, but there is nothing we can do about the problem because the victims refuse to reveal the names of the people involved," Mkhatjoa said.