Lid off Cape taxi fuel scam

Cape Town has uncovered a major syndicate responsible for stealing thousands of rands worth of petrol and has warned other large corporations to be on the lookout for similar crimes.

After months of careful detective work the city's risk management investigation officers nabbed the alleged ringleaders involved in stealing fuel master units from council vehicles and fitting them to taxis and other private vehicles to fraudulently buy fuel at the municipality's expense.

Giving details of the scam yesterday, "Copperheads" crime-fighting unit chairman Pieter van Dalen said six suspects had been charged and were out on bail.

Investigators were first alerted to the scam in July when city electricity services reported excessively high fuel consumption for one of its vehicles.

Van Dalen said the breakthrough came on September 26 when a minibus taxi was caught using a council fuel master unit at a service station in Epping.

Investigators established that the taxi owners were not linked to the illegal activities and apprehended the drivers.

Both drivers confessed and identified one of the suspects as the person who had fitted the council fuel master units to their taxis.

The investigators were then led to another suspect who worked at the Gugulethu depot of electricity services.

He admitted to stealing the units and implicated a third suspect, the alleged mastermind, who had the technical knowledge to remove and fit the units.

Further interrogation of the suspects had identified the alleged ringleader of the syndicate, Van Dalen said.

He would routinely supply taxi drivers with fuel master units for a fee of R250 a fill-up.

The investigation established that the crimes were well planned and executed.

"The city is committed to root out theft and corruption within the organisation," Van Dalen said. - Sapa