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Monday, July 22, 2024

Mpumalanga truck fleet owner linked to R60 million vehicle licensing fraud

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An owner of a fleet of 45 trucks, Demieties Peter Botes (47) was arrested and appeared before the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court facing charges of fraud, theft and money laundering in connection to an alleged scheme that cost the traffic department R60 million.

“Botes appeared alongside six co-accused Thembi Millicent Motlohi (43); Allman Thabani Masuku (35); Xoliswa Celia Ngcelwane (52); Nompulelo Winnie Nxumalo (44); Agnes Nosipho Ndzinisa (54); Nkosinathi Samuel Gumede (37); Thabang Clifford Khumalo (41); Nonhlanhla Precious Matsheka (42) and Nkosinathi Mahlalela (36),” said Hawks spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.

“They were arrested by the Nelspruit-based Hawks serious commercial crime investigation during a joint operation with Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), National Anti-Corruption Unit (NTACU) and Special Investigation Unit (SIU) on 18 July 2022 for fraud, theft and money laundering,” said Sekgotodi.

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It is alleged Botes licensed his truck fleet without paying the licence fees.

“The process is known as money dumping. The amount involved is approximately R60 million,” according to the Hawks.

Read | R60m Mpumalanga licensing fraud suspects released on R15 000 bail

Sekgotodi said Botes was also granted R15 000 bail, and the case against all accused was postponed to 20 July. The Hawks added additional arrests are expected.

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Demieties Peter Botes
Botes allegedly licensed his truck fleet without paying the licence fees. Pic – Hawks

In September, three additional suspects who are now part of the seven charged suspects, from Mbombela Municipality, Mbombela Traffic Department and White River Traffic Department, were arrested and added to the growing list of suspects.

At the time, Sekgotodi said the arrested people were charged with fraud, theft and money laundering amounting to R60 million.

“Their arrest followed an investigation carried over by the Special Investigation Unit in December 2018. It was reported that information was received about employees who were extending expired vehicle discs to the owners of the vehicles.

“During the investigation by the Hawks, it was established that the cashiers colluded with the motorists after they saw the opportunity of trucks owing large amounts of money, where officials would manipulate the system and extend the expiration dates of the vehicle licence discs and re-issuing the new disc that showed zero balance,” said Sekgotodi.

The Hawks said the truck owners would pay the money meant for the Traffic Department to the officials “for their own benefit, which is called money dumping” – amounting to R60 million.

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