NAIROBI – If rogue officers at the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) are to be believed, Mariam Omar Mwakituko rose from the dead and imported heavy commercial vehicles.
Were it not for the confounding grand fraud executed by the wayward officers at NTSA Mariam would probably never have been known beyond her home area in Msambweni, Kwale County.
Other Government agencies are also likely to be helping perpetrate the multi-billion shilling scam by using bogus identities such as the dead mother of four.
Mariam was buried on August 30, 2014 – a day after her death at Alfarooq Hospital. However, to the shock of members of her family, she is listed as a major importer of vehicles and knock-down car parts.
She is also the registered owner and operator of three commercial trucks, suspected to have been illegally assembled. Yet she lived in near destitution with her Imam husband, Swaleh Rashid.
It was only by accident that her younger brother, Omar, chanced upon the information as he sought to sell land registered in her name to clear the hospital bill she had accumulated. Paying for the transfer of the ownership documents to the buyer through the Government’s revenue portal revealed her ‘immense wealth’.
Among the properties she supposedly owned, according to Government records, are 13-tonne Isuzu truck and Toyota matatu registered in 2015 and 2016.
“I was shocked to find out that someone was using my sister’s identity to execute fraud,” Omar said.
Alfarooq Hospital only released Mariam’s body after the family surrendered their title deed, a pointer to the financial strain her illness caused.
Mariam’s is among many fictitious identities used by actual importers to execute the complex web of fraud involving billions of shillings and thousands of vehicles – mostly heavy trucks sold as pre-owned.
There are concerns her identity might have been used even before her death. Documents in our possession show several transactions years after her burial at Mwembeni Muslim Cemetery.
It is these imports, some destined for neighbouring countries, that are reassembled and registered in the NTSA system before they are sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Last week, an official of the Kenya Revenue Authority ordered the impounding of four truckloads of spare parts that have since been established to be complete vehicles that have only been broken up.
Mariam’s case offers a rare peek into the operations of rogue NTSA officers in abetting high-level crimes including tax evasion – as is the case with multiple car registration plates.