International review Investigation

City in bid to close in on corruption

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The City of Joburg is continuing with its arrest of corrupt officials.

Yesterday, the Joburg metro police department (JMPD) took part in a successful joint operation with the Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) after the latter arrested a male suspect in Brackendowns, Alberton. The EMPD provided information about a forgery house operated by a criminal syndicate in Joburg.

The JMPD K-9 Unit and EMPD officers recovered fake cheques, identity documents, driving licences, salary slips and various equipment to manufacture fraudulent documents, worth about R10million, at the building located at the corner of Loveday and Anderson streets in the CBD.

A further three male suspects were arrested at the building, and a total of four suspects were being detained at the Johannesburg Central police station. The suspects are also linked to a hijacking case where vehicles are smuggled over the South African border to Zimbabwe.

“As criminal operations are not limited to specific borders, it is important the metros work together to clamp down on crime. This joint operation is a perfect example of how we can all work together to stop criminal syndicates from operating in our cities,” said the city’s member of the mayoral committee for public safety, Michael Sun.

Last week a former city employee was caught, and is now facing 94 counts of fraud. This comes after he allegedly defrauded the city by irregularly issuing export certificates and allegedly pocketing about R100000.

The man, a former manager at the city’s environmental health department, appeared in the Johannesburg Commercial Crime Court and was granted bail of R3000. The matter will be heard tomorrow.

The first allegation was reported in 2012 by a company which alleged that the suspect issued 50 export certificates to it, but charged them for only 11, demanding they be paid for in cash or cheque.

The investigation, said Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba, revealed that the suspect had been defrauding the city since November 2009.

“It is alleged that he approached a number of export and import companies and offered to assist them with obtaining the certificates quicker. In his capacity he was not supposed to issue export and import certificates.”

“A total of 94 certificates were irregularly issued by this man. All monies relating to the certificates were paid into his personal bank account.”

“The city doesn’t issue invoices for export certificates. An exporter first pays at the city’s revenue paypoints and to the city’s bank account. Upon payment, the exporter will be issued with a receipt, which should be kept as proof of payment. An environmental health officer conducting a site inspection would then ask for proof of payment, and if the premises complies with the Health Act and the guidelines, a certificate will then be issued.”

“It has also been established that the export certificates that were irregularly and fraudulently issued to one company were on Department of Agriculture and Rural Development letterheads. The export certificates were also accompanied by veterinary health attestations that were allegedly completed and stamped by the suspect with a fraudulent stamp, which ascribed him with a title of ‘doctor’.”

“When an investigation into the allegations started in 2012, the employee resigned.”

“It is astonishing that the investigation into this serious matter was allowed to persist for so long. This is yet another example of how previous administrations dealt with corruption: by sweeping it under the carpet,” said Mashaba.

He is encouraging people to report any fraud and corruption activities through the city’s 24-hour tip-off hotline 0800 002 587 or visit the GFIS offices situated at 48 Ameshoff Street in Braamfontein.