TAXI PERMIT PAIR IN COURT
Two officials from the Mpumalanga department of roads and transport who were arrested in connection with fraud and corruption, related to the sale of false taxi operating permits to the public, appeared in court of Friday.
Khawulile Sibeko, 28, and Mngomezulu Fannie Manzini, 38, were not asked to plead when they appeared in the Nelspruit magistrate's court.
They were granted bail of R3000 each and the case was postponed to September 16 for further investigation.
Manzini and Sibeko were arrested in front of their colleagues, some of whom bolted out of their offices to watch the drama unfold as the police led the two handcuffed officials to their waiting vehicles last Wednesday.
Police believe that the two officials fraudulently issued taxi permits to taxi owners, for R5000 a permit.
Spokesman for the Mpumalanga provincial organised crime unit, Captain Leonard Hlathi, said the officials allegedly sold the permits despite there being a moratorium by the national transport department on issuing taxi permits.
"They allegedly sold the permits despite the moratorium. We all know that taxi owners are expected to convert the permits to operating licences so they can benefit from the government's taxi recapitalisation programme," said Hlathi yesterday.
He said that their investigations had revealed that between the two of them, the officials garnered about R200000.
Hlathi added that detectives from the police's commercial branch unit raided the offices of the officials' department in July and seized 11 computers believed to have been used in issuing the fraudulent permits.
The police also seized documents from the department for further investigation.
"We also confiscated 20 fake temporary drivers' licences and over 300 blank government face value documents which are used to manufacture vehicle permits, temporary licences and taxi permits," explained Hlathi.
"Had they been filled in and issued, the suspects would have illegally earned themselves over R500000," Hlathi added.
He said they fully expected to make more arrests soon.