Eastern Cape authorities to destroy 91 vehicles amid fraudulent car registration syndicate probe

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  • Ninety-one seized vehicles will be destroyed by the police and Road Traffic Management Corporation in the Eastern Cape.
  • The vehicles were among 520 vehicles that were impounded as part of an investigation into a fraudulent car registration syndicate.
  • Seventeen people were arrested during the investigation.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Eastern Cape police will destroy 91 seized vehicles in Grahamstown this week amid an ongoing investigation into a fraudulent car registration syndicate.

In 2019, about 520 vehicles were impounded and 17 people were arrested, including police officers, Department of Transport officials, and foreign nationals who were suspected of being the syndicate's kingpins.

They are charged with forgery, money laundering, fraud, the selling of illicit goods, and violations of the Customs and Excise Act, 61 of 1964 Act and Contravention of the National Road Traffic Act.

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The RTMC and police discovered that 91 of the 520 vehicles had fraudulent licence discs that were registered on the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) and it was claimed that most were from neighbouring countries, such as Malawi, RTMC chief communications officer Simon Zwane said.

He said some of the vehicles used forged registration plates from Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal to fool traffic officers into believing the vehicles were from South Africa.

"Investigations revealed that the vehicles in question were all illegally imported vehicles, predominantly from Japan."

"They were prohibited for use in South Africa as they were meant to be in transit for export to other parts of the continent," Zwane said.

According to him, the vehicles were sold at a reduced price, prompting criminal syndicates and unscrupulous officials to bypass the system and illegally register them through a mode of operation.

Zwane explained this: "An applicant (who is also a syndicate member) would approach a Komga Registering Authority official to initiate the vehicle's introduction into the NaTIS."

"Two police vehicle safeguard section (VSS) members would then issue the vehicles with fictitious police clearances."

"Three specific officials from the Eastern Cape help desk would fraudulently issue certificates of roadworthiness, and vehicles would then be registered on the NaTIS."

During the investigation, vehicles that were allegedly illegally bought from members of the syndicate were seized from members of the public, along with documents from the help desk, Komga Registering Authority, police VSS, and roadworthy centres, Zwane said.

The 17 people were releasedon R2 000 bail each and their next court appearance will be determined once the investigation is concluded, Zwane said.

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