Vehicle Licence Scam Exposed

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK A small-town bureaucrat, said to have sold a Code CE driving licence – for heavy-duty trucks – for N$2 300 to a buyer who can hardly drive, has been arrested and charged at Okahandja. The case is being taken seriously because Code CE is the highest driving licence for all motor vehicles and also taking into consideration the heavy toll of recent road accidents. Anthony Lucas, in the employ of the Okahandja municipality, but entrusted with the supervision of the NaTIS operations, allegedly pocketed N$2 300 from the under-the-table sale that took place at Okahandja. The Namibia Traffic Information System (NaTIS) is a sub-division of the Roads Authority (R.A) whose mandate is to maintain the country’s road network, in addition to vehicle registrations and licensing. Though David Diener, the Human Resources Manager at the Municipality of Okahandja, claimed he was not aware of the arrest, Audrin Mathe, the spokesperson at RA’s head office in Windhoek and an RA investigator yesterday confirmed the arrest of Lucas. “I am being very honest. It’s the first time I am hearing about the case. It was never brought to my attention,” said Diener when he was asked why the suspect is back at his desk at NaTIS. Sources said a certain M. N. Johannes, who resides in Windhoek and whose burning ambition is to “drive” a truck-and-trailer, received a Code CE licence without sitting for a single driving test though he confessed to investigators that he paid N$2 300 to the suspect. After a wad of banknotes changed hands, the aspiring truck driver immediately received a learner’s licence on November 10, 2005. Slightly over a month later on December 13, 2005, he received the CE licence issued only to those who pass the prescribed test both in theory and practical, said a source acquainted with the case. “Anthon Lucas is claiming to have tested the person. He compiled a false test sheet. That test sheet was eventually used to issue a driving licence on December 13, 2005,” said an RA investigator. Arrested eight days ago and appearing in court a week ago on corruption charges and in contravention of the Road Traffic Transportation Act, Lucas only regained his liberty after he posted bail of N$1 000 at the Okahandja magistrates’ court. His case was postponed to October 04 2006 to enable investigators to wind up their criminal investigation. Meanwhile, officials from RA have expressed concern that individuals who buy their licenses could be one key factor contributing to the high death toll on the country’s roads. An investigator said several cases are being investigated against certain members of the traffic police and NaTIS officials who sell licences to those desperately in need of such licences. A separate probe targeting individuals fingered in a licence scam at NaTIS Valley in Windhoek is said to have come to a complete standstill because detectives are citing budgetary constraints. An insider said those involved in the syndicate are so daring, that they approach prospective drivers who have failed the first hurdle with offers to pass, but strictly on condition their palms are greased. Some of the bribes being extorted from prospective drivers are N$300 for a learner’s licence and amounts ranging from N$1 000 to N$1 500 for a driving licence while Code CE licences are the most beneficial as these racketeers ask for N$2 500 or more for them.