Cop suspended over traffic fine scam

THE chief inspector of Cape Town's metro police has been suspended following a Sowetan exposé about an alleged traffic fine moneymaking syndicate.

Chief Inspector Henry Swift was suspended last Friday, city spokesperson Charles Cooper confirmed yesterday.

Swift is alleged to have supervised a money-making syndicate of traffic cops who conspired with a loan shark to fleece motorists of hundreds of thousands of rand.

The scam came to light after a one-year investigation by the SA Municipal Workers Union, which handed boxes of evidence and photographs over to the Hawks in May.

A day later, Sowetan exposed the scam, known as "Operation Reclaim". Motorists who had unpaid fines were detained in a city bus and threatened with detention unless someone came with cash to pay their fines.

When friends or relatives arrived with cash, they were told that they could only pay with bank-guaranteed cheques.

They were then taken to the back of the bus where a middle-aged white man, known as "Halfie" Foremann, issued the bank-guaranteed cheques in exchange for an extra "handling fee" of up to R1600.

The Hawks are reportedly investigating whether "Halfie" shared the handling fees with senior traffic cops.

At least two victims of the scam reported the matter to the city more than a year ago, but no action was taken until the Hawks and Sowetan became involved.

Cooper said the city will not comment further on Swift's suspension.

Samwu branch secretary Mikhel Khumalo said the city must apologise to the motorists who were fleeced by Halfie and the traffic cops.