A star graduate of the Road Traffic Inspectorate College is among six suspects arrested in connection with a learner licence fraud scheme in Richmond yesterday morning.
The 2005 honours graduate is one of three Richmond Municipality traffic licensing department officers and three driving school officials from Richmond arrested early yesterday morning.
The arrests followed a joint operation by the SAPS Organised Crime Unit, Crime Intelligence, Traffic and Transport Inspection Unit and the Special Investigations Unit.
It is believed that the investigation that led to the arrest has been going on for the past six months. The suspects were snared after police intelligence agents sat as learner licence candidates and were allegedly given the test answers for a bribe of R2 000.
“The learners were allegedly issued with the answer sheets to the actual test which they would openly copy on to the test sheet — taking five to 10 minutes to complete the test. It is further alleged that this procedure would be overseen by the examining officers.
“They would be issued with a learner’s licence and also secured driving licences,” said police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan.
It is alleged that corruption has made the Richmond licensing department one of the easiest centres in the province at which to get a learner’s licence. Police said candidates were transported by minibus taxis from as far as Tongaat and Port Shepstone.
There are many other small towns in the province known to have corrupt licensing departments.
Jeevan said there are other projects running concurrently with the Richmond one that aim at fighting corrupt licensing centres. But she declined to elaborate, saying that too much information might jeopardise the investigation.
Acting Richmond municipal manager Wayne Donnelly said the council has yet to decide whether to suspend the suspects.
“We will make such decisions once investigators provide us with details of the arrest. We were all taken by surprise by this arrest, because we didn’t suspect any corruption,” said Donnelly.