Home News Union calls for taxi permit official to be probed, suspended

Union calls for taxi permit official to be probed, suspended

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The Public Servants Association believes that a senior manager at the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison should be investigated and suspended for allegedly issuing irregular taxi permits and licences.

The R31 was blocked once again this week as taxi operators protested against illegal operators. Picture: Facebook

THE PUBLIC Servants Association (PSA) believes that a senior manager at the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, who is expected to retire at the end of the month, should be investigated and suspended for allegedly issuing irregular taxi permits and licences.

Two of his subordinates were suspended on the same charges and are undergoing disciplinary hearings.

Taxi operators blocked the R31 again this week as they protested against illegal operators who are transporting passengers on their routes.

They stated that they were forced to disperse after the police fired rubber bullets on Monday.

An investigation report that was released in 2021 into the awarding of taxi permits and licences, detected “huge fraud and corruption”, where bogus meetings were set up to make it appear as if provincial regulatory entity (PRE) hearings took place.

Several registration numbers did not exist or were scrapped from the road.

There were 184 outstanding applications and a backlog of 1,195 conversions dating back from 2017-2019, while 728 conversions were done without charge, leading to a shortfall of R218,555.

It was recommended that the chairperson of the PRE be suspended and criminally charged for fraud and corruption.

A case was opened for investigation by the Hawks in 2020.

According to the report, several taxi licences and permits were irregularly awarded, where the PRE chairperson had taken several decisions on his own, without holding any formal PRE hearings, and had manipulated processes to the advantage of certain applicants.

In some cases, no formal applications were submitted although permits were awarded in the absence of any hearings.

It was also revealed that a licence was issued on the same day that the application was received, while routes were amended and created without any formal applications and no application fees were paid.

Temporary licences were issued without following the correct procedures and licence transfers were processed for deceased persons.

It was found that 243 operating lines in Kimberley were not gazetted and did not go through procedural PRE hearings.

The report added that a previous PRE secretary had failed to schedule PRE meetings and had set up bogus meetings.

It indicated further that the secretary of the PRE had withheld valuable information during the investigation and should be charged and disciplined in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

PSA provincial manager Steve Ledibane stated that officials, regardless of their rank or title, should receive uniform treatment.

“The senior manager should not escape with impunity. Let any official who is implicated in wrongdoing be investigated and found guilty or cleared of the charges on merit. A blind eye is being turned because one of the officials has a higher rank,” said Ledibane.

He pointed out that the suspended transport officials could not be operating in isolation.

“In the event that the senior manager is found to have acted improperly and caused financial losses, the department has a right to recoup funds from his pension,” he added.

Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison spokesperson Rennie Andrias said they were made aware of the allegations by credible organisations, including the Public Protector, the Hawks and the Public Service Commission.

“We are awaiting their report before we comment. We are co-operating with them in their investigations,” said Andrias.

He added that they were not at liberty to comment on internal disciplinary proceedings until they were finalised.

“We want to emphasise that, as a responsible government, we are against any form of corruption and mismanagement.

“The public is assured that we will do everything in our power to fight corruption in the department and deliver services to the people of the Province.”

Hawks regional spokesperson Warrant Officer Nomthandazo Mnisi stated that a case was registered.

“At this stage, it is still an enquiry and so no one has been charged as yet.”

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