Government is in the process of launching a blitz to uncover a syndicate controlled by individuals who are fraudulently registering imported cars that enter the country through the Gobabis Border from Botswana or through the Port of Walvis Bay, The Patriot has uncovered.
Although figures are not readily available because of the ongoing investigation, Government could be losing millions in potential revenue through the well-orchestrated registration syndicate.
Most second hand cars that find their way into Namibia from Botswana are introduced to the Southern African Customs Union member states through the Durban Port in South Africa.
Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein confirmed that a tip off was sent to his office regarding a number of people engaging in illicit ways of registering their vehicles locally in the country through a syndicate involving some officials who work at Natis.
“We received such information and investigations are being carried out to understand how these cars are finding their way into the country and end up with a Namibian registration. It is however important that we do a thorough investigation as we part of the SACU pool and by engagement it is imperative to take heed that there are a lot of taxes that need to be paid and sometimes the payments are done at the first point of entry,” he said.
“Sometimes the payments need to be done at the Botswana side of the border and not at our side but either way investigations need to be conducted. What we need to do is to find a way of understanding what is happening,” Schlettwein said.
The country’s purse manager added that although there are anomalies such as the investigated syndicate, Namibia is still expecting to get its promised share of the SACU revenue this year.
Confirmations so far indicate that a few cases were picked up at Mamuno Border post between Namibia and Botswana where a few vehicles were impounded by Customs officials as their track record and registration was suspect.
A Police Officer manning the border told The Patriot two weeks ago that there was a recent case where a driver was caught driving the popular Toyota Corolla (Dankie Botswana as affectionately known in local circles) but could not explain how the car was registered with a Namibian number plate and without paying the requisite taxes at the border, especially to the Customs officials.
According to a police source at the border post who cannot be mentioned because of his rank and inability to speak to the media officially, Namibians buy cars in Botswana and liase with registration and customs officials to dodge the set vehicle registration procedures. It is alleged that they submit the initial papers of the car from the country of origin.
This then allows the rogue car registration officials to register the car on the Namibian database. The moment the car is on the database it then qualifies to get Namibian number plates and drive with local registration.
He said, “Most of these guys upon fraudulently registering their cars then drive to Botswana with public transport and carry the registration plates and fake papers in their bag. When they arrive in Botswana they attach the Namibian plates to the car and drive from Botswana to Namibia as if the car was formally registered. What is happening then is that customs won’t get anything in terms of payment and most of them have evaded paying these customs fees that go up to N$5000 and sometimes more because of Value Added Tax.”
He added that one of the recent culprits left his car at the border and literally crossed into Namibia by foot after failing to explain to the border officials how the car was registered in Namibia. Impounded vehicles are normally auctioned off if investigations reveal that they were indeed fraudulently registered.
Meanwhile further investigations revealed that car owners who make use of the syndicate pay between N$7000 to N$10 000 to have their cars illegally registered locally.