The National Transport Department estimates that up to half of the country’s six million driving licences could be illegal, and a special investigating unit has been appointed to eradicate corrupt officials.

The National Transport Department estimates that up to three million of South Africa’s six million driving licences could be fraudulent or illegal, and a special investigating unit has been launched to dispel the corruption.

Over the next three years, the investigating unit will have the task of rooting out the corruption in the issuing of the licences, which the transport department has attributed to procedural irregularities. Seventy-five investigators will be working with the department to plug the loopholes that are being exploited by the frauds.

An investigation in Limpopo last year revealed that about 15 000 of the 120 000 licences issued since 1994, have been irregular, the reported.

The Transport Department’s chief director of land transport regulation, Wendy Watson, said that the department seriously doubted the driving abilities of a large percentage of South African drivers and lauded the unit’s progress in uncovering corrupt licensing officials.

“We are very impressed by the work done by the unit so far and we feel certain that their investigators will get to the root of the problem and see to it that the guilty parties are prosecuted,” Watson said.

However, she added that another concern was the flood of fraudulent foreign licences into the country, which are then converted into valid South African driving licences. Efforts to curb these practises by demanding letters from the foreign licensing authorities confirming the validity of the licences are sidestepped, with many of these letters being forged.

Watson added that much needed to be done to control the problem.

One credentials company stated that up to 18 per cent of the licences submitted to it by companies for verification were forged or fraudulent. A spokesman for the company said there had been a substantial increase in the number of cases over the past five years. It was suggested too that syndicates operated in conjunction with the licensing officials to issue forged licences.

The spokesperson for the Automobile Association, Petro Kruger, said the widespread practise of allowing unlicensed drivers to proceed after being pulled over at road blocks, was “of grave concern”. She also cited delays of up to six months for learners’ licences as contributing towards corruption.

Original article from Car