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Ndebele: Media briefing on KZN Transport's success in combating fraud & corruption (06/03/2003)

6th March 2003

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Date: 06/03/2003
Source: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
Title: Ndebele: Media briefing on KZN Transport's success in combating fraud & corruption


KZN TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT MAKES MAJOR STRIDES IN COMBATING FRAUD AND CORRUPTION; MEDIA BRIEFING BY KWAZULU-NATAL MEC FOR TRANSPORT S'BU NDEBELE, 6 March 2003

When I took over the provincial transport portfolio in 1994, I vowed to clamp down on fraud and corruption relating to vehicle and driving licence test centres. To date, people ranging from clerks to test station owners, traffic officers and owners of driving schools have been arrested on charges relating to fraud, corruption and bribery, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

FRAUD AND CORRUPTION BUSTING TRACK RECORD

In the latest incident, Mahendra Ramsunder (32) and Venokanthan Perumal Govender (25), former employees from the Isipingo Roadworthiness Test Station near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, were sentenced in the Durban Magistrates Court on Monday (03/03/2003) to seven years imprisonment of which three years were suspended, after being found guilty of 676 counts of Fraud. The offences took place between 1996 and 1997 where certificates of roadworthiness were issued without the said vehicles undergoing the necessary roadworthy tests. In many instances, the vehicles were not even present at the Test Centre when the roadworthiness certificates were issued.

On 21 January 2003, a former employee at the Goble Road (Windsor Park) Licensing Bureau confessed to receiving money in return for assisting applicants for learners licence tests to cheat in their exams. Noreen Desire DeGee (40), of Rosehill, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud in that she gave those sitting for the exam question books with the answers or filled them in for them herself. According to the charge sheet, she had acted in cahoots with driving school owners and instructors who charged between R250 and R450 for this. She will be sentenced on 19 March 2003 and another eight people from driving schools will stand trial in May 2003 on similar charges.

During December last year officials from the Transport Department swooped on the premises of GAP Testing Station in Umbilo, Durban and issued a notice to the owner to discontinue business including an order to attach all goods.

On 16 July 2002, one hundred and seventy four driving licences issued by the Ixopo Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands were cancelled by the KZN Department of Transport after it was found that these licences were fraudulently issued.

COMPUTERISED LEARNER'S LICENCE SYSTEM

We are currently working in conjunction with the National Department of Transport on a computerised learner's licences system. The computerised learners licence test operates from a touch screen computer with audio and visual elements and caters for all applicants, including illiterate people. The system is to incorporate all eleven official languages of this country. We are putting this system in place to combat fraud and corruption, to level the playing fields and to enhance road safety. Tenders have already been invited by the National Department of Transport, which have been forwarded to the State Information Technology Agency for adjudication. Once the successful tenderer has been appointed, three pilot sites will be used to test the system for about one year.

Mkondeni in Pietermaritzburg is one of these sites to be used as a pilot site. Once the system proves successful it will be rolled out to the entire country, which would take approximately 18 months. The National Department of Transport has awarded a tender for the compilation of the question bank consisting of approximately 1400 learner driver testing questions. Tests will be randomly selected which means for example, in a class of 30 applicants, different tests will be done by the applicants at the same time.

ROAD TRAFFIC ACT AMENDMENTS

Also, sweeping amendments to the Road Traffic Act are currently being considered that will prevent a person who fraudulently obtains his or her driving or learner's licence from re-applying for such licence for a certain period of time.

In addition to the usual criminal sanctions related to bribery and corruption, a person who cheats during any examination will also be prohibited from applying for a licence or permit for a specific period from the date of the offence. The person who cheat will also forfeit any payments made and any licence or permit issued or authorised will be cancelled.

Further, applicants for a driving licence will have to apply in person to make an appointment for an examination and will no longer be able to use agents, representatives or instructors. Also, applicants for licences, permits or examinations will in future be constrained by the domicile rule and will have to apply in the area where they commonly reside. This will negate the practice of "touting" for appointments at various testing centres, which leads to fraudulent activities.

MEDIA INVOLVEMENT

On Sunday (2 March 2003) Cart Blanche aired apparent evidence of corrupt activities taking place at the Rossburgh Test Station in Durban. Based on this information, action has already been taken against two officials and other officials will be redeployed and continuously monitored. We appreciate and welcome media institutions or anyone else who wishes to help stamp out corruption and we will always cooperate and give assistance to them to fight this common enemy - corruption.

In 1999 MNet in conjunction with our department helped expose corruption in this area. We are and have always been against corruption in the area of licensing.

CONCLUSION

The KZN Transport Department is thus looking for a collective solution to this problem. We are streets ahead of other transport departments in the search for a successful system, as well as in many other projects undertaken by the department.

We therefore call all members of staff and the public to come forward with any information in this regard. We are determined to rid the department of corruption and I would like to thank the media for assisting us in this mission.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all drivers who have not yet converted their driving licences to the new credit card format to do so immediately or face the consequences. Test Stations around the province have reported to be extremely quite this week and I want to urge drivers not to leave this process to the last minute in order to prevent the chaos that we had last week.

Media contact: Thabang Chiloane on 082 8055 748
Issued by KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport
6 March 2003
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