A 33-year-old businessman in the motor vehicle industry was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by the Belville Magistrate's Court on Thursday for his role as mastermind of a roadworthiness certificate syndicate."The businessman was sentenced to ten years' direct imprisonment with five years suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted on charges of corruption during the period of the suspended sentence," National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said in a statement on Thursday.Elton Bernard Abrahams was not alone as sentences were also handed down to his girlfriend, a government employee and a vehicle fleet owner who formed part of the syndicate."His girlfriend, Bronwyn Davids, 31, was sentenced to three years' house arrest," Ntabazalila said.The court showed leniency to Davids as she was a first-time offender who "showed remorse"."Laurel Richards who used to work for the Western Cape department of transport was not as lucky, as the court handed her a three-year direct imprisonment sentence," Ntabazalila added.Three more expected in courtAbrahams organised roadworthiness certificates for 11 vehicles without the vehicles being present or tested at a testing station at the request of his co-accused, Fazel Dollie, according to the NPA."He paid Abrahams R18 000 for the roadworthy certificates that were fraudulently issued. He was sentenced to five years' direct imprisonment wholly suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of corruption during the period of the suspended sentence," Ntabazalila explained.The Belville Magistrate's Court is expected to hear the cases against three more people linked to the syndicate."More than 1 371 vehicles were entered into the eNatis system to obtain these fraudulent roadworthy certificates. The incidents happened between 2013 and 2017 and targeted the Korsten Vehicle Testing Station in Port Elizabeth and the Emthanjeni Municipal Vehicle Testing Station in De Aar," Ntabazalila said.The syndicate would approach vehicle owners and offer them roadworthiness certificates without the vehicles being tested."These were mostly heavy or passenger carrying vehicles that had to be certified as being roadworthy annually or bi-annually. The vehicle owner would pay a fee directly to Abrahams or into a bank account or via money market to Abrahams or his girlfriend," Ntabazalila explained.Lives put at riskThe accused also helped vehicle owners with their arrears on licence fees.According to the NPA, the vehicles would be placed in vehicle dealerships names as "dealer stock" on the system. In this way no licence fees were payable.These various schemes committed by the accused resulted in money lost by the Western Cape department of transport."The NPA welcomes the sentences imposed as the accused were involved in a scheme that allows unroadworthy vehicles to operate on South African roads putting thousands of lives at risk," Ntabazalila concluded.