- Five transport department officials in KZN have been granted R5 000 bail each.
- They were arrested by the Hawks for alleged fraud and corruption worth R7 million.
- It is alleged that they sold taxi operating licences for R25 000 at a time.
Five KwaZulu-Natal transport department officials appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday for alleged fraud and corruption.
Sihle Qwabe, 43, Jonas Mhlambi, 61, Khanyi Mbatha, 44, Sabelo Mbatha, 33, and Nkululeko Ncanane, 34, were each granted R5 000 bail. The case was postponed to 9 November.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli condemned the officials who allegedly committed fraud and corruption to the tune of R7 million.
The five were charged with 252 counts of fraud.
Ntuli alleged the arrests came after an internal investigation was initiated by the department "which was prompted by various allegations that the five officials, aged between 33 and 61, were issuing operating permits to taxi operators without proper documentation".
It is alleged they charged R25 000 per permit.
Ntuli said it was "totally unacceptable" that officials were allegedly abusing their power to serve personal interests.
"Particularly, as this involves the taxi industry which is marred by violence and instability."
He added the department was investigating the entire provincial regulatory entity responsible for the regulation of the public transport industry in the province, including the issuing of operating licences.
"The arrest of the five officials demonstrates the effectiveness of our internal controls within the department. As part of our anti-corruption strategy the department has established an ethics committee that looks into all unethical behaviour in the department, including fraud and corruption."
Ntuli said they would also give attention to driver licence testing centres, adding the department was following up leads of possible irregularities or acts of criminality.
"We are making serious interventions in curbing the fraudulent issuing of learners and drivers' licences in driver licence testing centres. This is important in ensuring that we produce competent drivers who understand the rule of law and who value life."