Ndebele: Govt officials nabbed for scam
Johannesburg - Johannesburg's Langlaagte testing station was "strangely quiet" when Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele paid a surprise visit on Thursday.
"We went there and found it strange that the testing station, which is normally so busy, was quiet," said Gauteng transport department spokesperson Octavia Mamabolo.
They arrived half an hour before closing time and were able to speak to a few people still there before the 15:00 closure.
The visit by Ndebele and Gauteng community safety MEC Ismail Vadi formed part of efforts to stamp out the illegal driver's licences allegedly being sold through some driving instructors, testing station staff and car guards.
It followed a media report that licences were being sold for as little as R800 at some Gauteng testing centres.
Govt officials targeted
At a press conference earlier, Ndebele said government officials were among those targeted in a probe into the scam.
"We acknowledge that some of our officials are part of the problem," he said.
The investigation, conducted by the police and their specialist unit the Hawks, had uncovered several illegalities, the minister said.
Eye tests were not conducted as required, people who failed were passed, test candidates were being impersonated, and candidates were passed in absentia.
Ndebele said there were two types of fake licences: a copy that looked like a real licence and was not put into the eNaTiS computer system, and a licence obtained through illegal methods and entered into the eNaTiS system.
So far in Gauteng, 2 373 licences or professional driver permits had been cancelled because of illegalities.
Ndebele said the backlog of about 495 000 people waiting to be tested for their driver's licences had created the conditions for the scams.
To address this, the call centre for booking test dates in Gauteng had been done away with, and a walk-in booking system had been introduced.
A new testing centre would open in Kliptown, Soweto, in November, in addition to immediate plans to open three more testing stations in other parts of the country, Ndebele said.
Teaching schoolchildren to drive
A pilot project to teach schoolchildren how to drive, using old government fleet cars, would be rolled out nationally from March.
Gauteng community safety MEC Ismail Vadi said the pilot project for this, at a cost of R750 per pupil, had been successful.
Where pupils could not afford the fee, arrangements had been made.
Ndebele said police would also conduct 250 000 roadblocks a month nationwide to check driver's licences.
Ndebele urged fleet owners to check their drivers' licences, and so far the Imperial group had agreed to a self-policing system for this.
A fraud hotline had been set up on 0800-701701 and the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org was available for reports of irregularities.
Driving with an illegally obtained or fake licence was "collusion to murder", Ndebele said.