crooked cops nabbed for tow truck graft

Mckeed Kotlolo

Mckeed Kotlolo

Three employees of the South African Police Service in Mpumalanga face corruption charges after they allegedly took kickbacks from tow truckers.

Vusi Freddie Magagula, 32, Martin van Wyk, 32, and Nelson Masilela, 30, all data typists at Witbank police station, risked the lives of people involved in accidents by first informing tow truckers before calling emergency services.

Van Wyk was arrested on Friday and appeared in court the same day while Masilela was arrested on Sunday.

They were each released on R1000 bail and their cases postponed to September 12 and October 3 respectively.

Magagula was arrested on Wednesday and appeared in court hours later. He was also released on R1000 bail and his case postponed to September 19.

They were arrested by members of the crack organised crime unit.

Captain Leonard Hlathi of the Mpumalanga organised crime unit said they would be suspended without pay.

"This has been going on for about two years and they each received R450 per an alert," he said.

Hlathi said investigations would reveal if there was any loss of life as a result of their actions and if so, the law would deal with them accordingly.

The Automobile Association (AA) said it was aware of the ongoing corruption involving tow truck services.

"It is a fairly common practice. We have received a lot of such complaints before. This includes the private ambulances," said spokesman Gary Ronald.

He also said some tow truckers even employed members of the public to "run" for them. He warned that the danger of racing to accident scenes might cause other accidents along the way.

Hlathi would not say the exact amount involved in the corruption case.

More arrests are expected soon, Hlathi said.