The Durban Commercial Crimes Court has sentenced five learner licence applicants to five years imprisonment for bribing licence examiners to obtain learner licences through fraudulent means.
The five were arrested at Umngeni Licensing Office in Howick last year as part of an anti-corruption crackdown by the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Hawks.
That crackdown resulted in the arrest of 15 people including six officials and nine applicants. A driving school operator, who is alleged to be an intermediary who facilitated the fraudulent transactions, was arrested two weeks ago.
Five of the nine applicants pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud and were sentenced to five years imprisonment or R5000 fine. Half of the sentence was suspended for five years.
The convicted applicants are Miss Nokukhanya Benzani Gcabashe, Miss Makhosi Princess Mbokazi, Mr Zwelihle Nkanyiso Mzimela, Mr Melusi Robert Dlamini and Miss Nobuhle Chantal Mbali.
The case against their co-accused, Mr Siyabonga Brian Thulebona Mlotshwa, Mr Alex Vusumuzi Nzama, Mbuyiselwa Excellent Zondi and Mr Nhlanhla Prince Zondi was postponed to April 24 when they are expected to plead and be sentenced.
The RTMC CEO Advocate Makhosini Msibi said the conviction was yet another victory in the battle against corruption. "This should send a message to the public that crime does not pay," he said.
He added that the convictions would boost effort to improve safety and reduce fatalities over the forthcoming Easter period.
The convicted applicants would now have a criminal record against their names and this would have negative consequences for them when looking for employment.
The trial of the officials is set to start on June 24 in the same court. The driving school operator is expected to appear in court next month.
Investigations into corruption at the Howick licensing office have not been concluded and more arrests can be expected.
Issued by: Road Traffic Management Corporation