Twelve suspects arrested in connection with a syndicate allegedly involved in the fraudulent registration of imported second-hand vehicles are expected to appear in court on Friday, said the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
"A total of 12 suspects have been arrested (on Wednesday) in a pre-dawn swoop in three Eastern Cape towns as authorities clamp down on a syndicate allegedly involved in the fraudulent registration of imported second-hand vehicles," said the RTMC.
Wednesday's arrests follow a year-long investigation by the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit (NTACU) of the RTMC, which identified hundreds of imported second-hand vehicles that had been fraudulently introduced into the national traffic information system (Natis) as re-builds.
Twelve suspects, including three Eastern Cape Department of Transport help desk officials, two SAPS members from the vehicle clearance office, one official from the Komgha registering authority, one examiner from a privately-own vehicle testing station and four middlemen (runners) were arrested and are expected to appear at the Komgha Magistrate's Court for bail application on Friday.
A task team comprising members of NTACU, the Eastern Cape branch of Special Investigations Unit and the South African Police Service (SAPS) anti-corruption unit, crime intelligence and vehicle crime investigation unit conducted further investigations and identified key suspects involved in the syndicate.
It has been established that a syndicate involving foreign nationals, the Eastern Cape Department of Transport help desk officials, SAPS members and vehicle testing stations allegedly colluded in an elaborate scheme where imported second-hand vehicles destined for neighbouring countries were being fraudulently sold and registered in South Africa," said the RTMC.
It is alleged that the syndicate colluded to fraudulently produce official documents such as traffic registers, police clearance certificates and roadworthy certificates to enable the vehicles to be introduced on the Natis as re-builds.
Search and seizure operations were conducted in the Eastern Cape towns of East London, King Williamstown and Komgha. On Wednesday, documents and computers were confiscated for further investigation.
Members of the task team have also seized more than 400 vehicles.
More arrests are expected.
The RTMC urged members of the public, who have information about the sale and registration of imported second-hand vehicles, to assist the investigation by contacting the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit 0861 400 800 on or email email@example.com.
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)