Licence Syndicate Busted

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK An elaborate piece of undercover detective work yesterday saw several people, among them policemen long suspected of corrupt activities such as soliciting bribes and a junior government official who “bought” a driving licence, being arrested. Detectives, after being alerted by the Roads Authority (RA) about allegations of driving licences being sold by a syndicate involving corrupt policemen, have over the past weeks been mapping out a plan of action on how to pounce on this criminal syndicate. The modus operandi was that prospective drivers after having failed tests for vehicle licences at NaTIS were told about a “shortcut” to a driving licence without complications by people involved in the issuance of licences at the licensing authority. Some individuals, whose role in the syndicate was to solicit bribes of N$1 000 so that they can facilitate the issuance of licences for sedans, or a larger sum of N$3 000 for trucks, played a pivotal role in this scam. There were also suggestions that some people were failed deliberately so that members of the syndicate could approach them for bribes to facilitate the issuance of bogus licences. The people issuing the licences are for now exonerated of any wrongdoing, as they simply cannot tell whether the applicant/s failed or passed their driving test/s. Though a police spokesman feigned ignorance about the scam, Audrin Mathe a senior spokesman at the RA under which NaTIS falls, confirmed the capture of the six people whom he said where arrested based on the material evidence gathered. Among those arrested is the secretary to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, who is believed to have been among people who bought bogus driving licences through the syndicate that was besieged by undercover detectives. “In June this year, we instituted an undercover operation to prove the allegations of people buying or selling driving licences,” said the RA spokesman. He added, “we can now confirm that our investigation unearthed material evidence that these licences are actually available on the market and the police have confirmed that six people were arrested in connection with the operation that we initiated.” “We are determined that we will leave no stone unturned because we associate ourselves wholeheartedly with the President’s call to root out corruption,” he told New Era. This newspaper yesterday received information that members of the traffic police involved in the scam, that could possibly see hundreds of licenses revoked, were also arrested but the police refused to comment on this as they felt their operation was still at a sensitive stage. Mathe appealed to members of the public, not only in Windhoek but also in other parts of the country, to blow the whistle on those involved in what is said to be an old scam. Apart from issuing driving licences, NaTIS is mandated to issue roadworthiness and fitness certificates for vehicles and is involved in the registration of vehicles as a licensing authority.