State vehicles are stolen by government officials and stripped for cash, while some are rented out to individuals, in an elaborate scam that has netted up to R38 million.

This emerged during in-camera hearings held by the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in the Gauteng Legislature on Thursday.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport briefed Scopa on the extent of the racket, which also includes the abuse of government petrol cards.

Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi confirmed that the department had investigated three cases of corruption at G-Fleet, a Gauteng government owned entity which manages over 7000 vehicles on behalf of various national and provincial departments, as well as state entities.

This involved fraudulent use of fuel cards, theft of motor vehicles and irregular hiring of vehicles to private individuals in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Officials who operated a privately-owned garage using state cars for personal gain had also been nabbed.

“Departmental investigations are concluded and were reported to the South African Police Service for criminal prosecution,” Vadi said.

Scopa heard how rogue officials netted up to R38 million through abuse of state cars.

Vadi said disciplinary charges were instituted against a G-Fleet manager responsible for Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal offices. The manager resigned last year.

“The case has been registered with the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal and a specialist prosecutor from the Commercial Crimes Court has been assigned to the case. The assets forfeiture unit in KwaZulu-Natal has also been engaged in the case,” he said.

Two more officials will also be charged internally, while 10 employees linked to a privately-owned garage were arrested and charged.

 

Last week, G-Fleet complained to the Gauteng Legislature’s portfolio committee on roads and transport that it was owed R370 million by 90 national and provincial departments and would suspend petrol cards unless government paid up.

CEO Noxolo Maninjwa told the committee letters of demand had been sent to departments and government entities that owe them money.

The worst offenders were:

* Gauteng Department of Health, which owes R109 million;

* Office of the Chief Justice and the Department of Home Affairs were R70 million in the red;

* National Prosecuting Authority owes R11 million;

* Gauteng Department of Infrastructure and Development owes R12 million.