Fraud costs Metrobus millions

Computicket has revealed that six of its staff members are facing criminal charges for manipulating Metrobus ticket sales — and this is just a smidgen of the widespread theft affecting Metrobus.

“We are aware of a criminal case currently pending against six Computicket staff members who were suspended in February 2017 following an internal investigation into missing money due to staff members allegedly manipulating Metrobus ticket sales,” a representative of Computicket said in a statement to the Mail & Guardian.

And up to R10-million is being lost every month because of fraud and theft by Metrobus, in addition to the theft by Computicket employees, a high-level Metrobus source said.

Metrobus is a municipal entity of the City of Johannesburg. It is to receive R51-million to procure busses and an additional R5-million for refurbishing the existing fleet from the city budget.

But the entity is beset with reports of theft.

“A Computicket cashier was dismissed for stealing R70 000 in two days. Another Computicket cashier was shot dead outside his home after buying a [Toyota] Fortuner [with] cash and when they unlocked his locker R100 000 was found,” the source said.

“Computicket cashiers go to work in the morning and accumulate whatever personal target they have set for themselves on the day, then only [do] they switch on the system and start working for Metrobus. There are also allegations of the cashiers being part of stokvels that pay out R100 000 a week,” he said.

Metrobus uses sales-point machines installed at Computicket vending stations, which capture bus trip sales on behalf of the operator.

The source said a forensic report by the city this year found that Metrobus was losing an estimated R6-million a month because its drivers were pocketing money.

After a dip in Metrobus revenue in 2014 two internal audits conducted by Bonani Chartered Accountants and outsourced service providers revealed that one of  the reasons for the fall in revenue was Computicket cashiers unduly benefiting from Metrobus sales.

The M&G is also in possession of a report that confirms the relationship between Metrobus and Computicket is plagued by irregularities that both parties, according to the report, have repeatedly failed to explain.

Metrobus acknowledged that it was losing money as a result of theft by Computicket vendors, but denied it was losing as much as R10-million a month.

“The company collects on average R10-million per month through cash collections and coupon sales,” said Metrobus spokesperson Nkosinathi Nkabinde. “It is not true that Johannesburg Metrobus is losing R10-million per month through Computicket.

“This would be impossible as Metrobus would need to have an additional one million passengers per month to lose such high revenue. This is beyond the bus capacity that Metrobus has and may not be factual.”

The source said, however, the two audit reports did not paint the full picture of the extent of looting and theft underway at Metrobus.

“An inspection of the buses revealed that ticket machines in the buses are not working most of the time, which means that the buses are basically on the road for free,” the source said, also pointing to the forensic report by the City of Johannesburg that found drivers were pocketing an amount of about R6-million.

“If you add this amount to the Computicket cashier scandal you will reach a figure of about R10‑million monthly,” he said.

Computicket said it “runs its ticketing service based on fair and professional business practices and endeavours to maintain close working relationships with clients on whose behalf tickets are sold to consumers”. 

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