A senior official in the Eastern Cape transport department has been transferred to a different unit after allegedly sitting on an investigative report into a syndicate that fraudulently gained access to government's national driving licence issuing system.
City Press understands that a whistleblower reported the alleged syndicate to the Hawks.
The move has allegedly caused panic within the department and the department’s director for admin and licensing Gopolang Masike, who was allegedly sitting on the report, was transferred early this month from the headquarters in Qonce, formerly known as King William’s Town, to the scholar transport unit in East London pending investigation into the allegations against him.
Although Eastern Cape transport department spokesperson Unathi Binqose said the department was unaware of the Hawks' investigation, he said they were aware that a whistleblower within the department did open a criminal case with the Hawks.
He, however, confirmed that Masike was temporarily transferred to scholar transport as a precautionary measure to allow an investigation to proceed without interference and hindrance.
Binqose would not reveal reasons behind Masike's transfer.
But, City Press has seen reports alleging that officials with the department and Ndlambe Local Municipality in Alexandria and Port Alfred since 2013 colluded to allow unqualifying traffic officers to have access to the National Traffic Information Systems (NaTis).
The probe, which was conducted by the department's investigator, Nkosinathi Malinga, commenced on November 26 2020 and a report was prepared for the attention of former transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe.
Tikana-Gxothiwe, who is currently a member of the ANC provincial legislature, was reshuffled by Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane in August.
Masike, who was Malinga's supervisor at the time, allegedly recommended to his superiors for the investigation to be "halted", according to Malinga's submission within the department.
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The department renders NaTis-related services, which include applications, processing and issuing of learner and driving licences.
Some of the officials implicated in the reports were found to have committed similar allegations of fraud and corruption at the Komga licensing department in the Great Kei municipality in 2018.
It remains unclear whether the alleged syndicate did so to sell driving licences.
Eastern Cape Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela referred the questions to the department.
“I would like to assist you but the fact that you say it is not yet registered with us means I won't be of any help to you. As for the procedure of investigation, we don't discuss with the media, more especially that you have indicated it is at a threshold level,” Mgolodela said.
City Press understands that the move by the whistleblower to report the alleged syndicate to the Hawks has caused panic within the department.
This after Masike allegedly sat on the report, according to a memo dated December 7 2022 addressed by Malinga to the department’s acting director Xolisa Jakuja.
In the memo, Malinga defended himself from Masike’s alleged suggestions about how the report was wrongfully distributed to top management.
Malinga said he submitted a report into serious allegations of fraud and corruption at Ndlambe Local Municipality to Masike on November 26 2020.
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He said Masike called him to his office on December 3 2020 and instructed him to edit the heading of his memo – the investigation report – in such a way that it did not seem to have come from him as the investigator and remove other signatories that he had included as part of the hierarchical submission for the head of department's (HoD) approval.
“This, he said, was because the contents of the investigation report are sensitive for them to go past many hands in the hierarchical chain of top managers of the department,” Malinga wrote.
Malinga stated Masika then instructed him to put the memo in a way that was initiated by the HoD for recommendation and Tikana-Gxothiwe for her approval.
He said Masike wanted the memo to be submitted in a Microsoft Word format.
However, Malinga said he followed the instruction by changing the investigation report according to Masike’s advice and submitting it electronically.
In the email, he said because he disagreed with Masike’s instruction, he blind-copied the department’s deputy director-general for administration Lemox Sisilana in his capacity as acting HoD for him to see the memo and probably give proper advice.
Malinga said Masike never refuted how the memo was drafted, which confirmed that he had drafted it according to his instruction.
He said Masike personally influenced him to act in a manner that was unlawful and that his conduct contravened the ethical conduct and trust bestowed upon his office by government.
Malinga said Masike claimed during his interaction with the HoD that he [Malinga] had used unfounded authority to draft the report.
He said he was qualified to conduct the investigation.
“All that was required from me from Mr Masike as the director of transport admin and licensing was to transmit the report for the HoD’s recommendation and the former MEC’s approval,” Malinga wrote.
He added Masike had the authority to recommend or reject the report for correction if there were issues that needed attention.
He said Masike’s recommendation to the HoD to “halt” the investigation was misleading to the department on matters of serious concern regarding allegations of fraud and corruption.
Malinga said he had been asked to make representations against allegations of misconduct.
“The acting chief director should also note that this comes immediately after the Ndlambe local municipality investigation report is receiving the attention it deserves,” he wrote.
This, he said, was because of matters that he was requested to make representations from the 2021/2022 financial year.
“This is an abuse of authority by Mr Masike, thus, on all matters that I have raised herein, appropriate action must be taken against him,” he wrote.