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The eThekwini Municipality’s legal representatives need to investigate why city officials paid a landlord R48 000 to release five metro vehicles without the knowledge or consent of the panel beater who had been holding them.
At a special municipal public accounts committee meeting on Monday, Richard Govender, a businessman whose company Pinetown Panel Beaters did work for the metro police for several years, urged committee members to intervene in the matter that has been dragging on for more than two years.
A former metro police officer, Govender said the dispute began in August 2009 when six metro vehicles were brought to his premises for repair.
He alleged that the payments stopped after he exposed corruption in the metro police.
At the time, he was owed about R300 000 for the work he had completed, but this amount had grown over the years with storage charges, he said.
Govender said he had repeatedly refused to release the vehicles until the city had settled its debt, which now stood at R1.5m.
However, the vehicles were released to the city last month after it reached an agreement with Rashid Carrim, the landlord of the property on which Govender ran his business.
According to a document tabled at a meeting last month, Carrim released the vehicles after the city had paid him R48 000 for storage. This was after Govender had been evicted for falling behind with his rent.
Govender told committee members on Monday that the vehicles had been fraudulently removed from the property. The vehicle keys were still in his possession.
“Whoever removed the vehicles must have used the spare keys because the keys that arrived with the vehicles are still with me, which goes to show that I wasn’t informed about the removal of the cars,” he said.
He refused to divulge the whereabouts of the sixth vehicle, a trailer.
“If the city feels that I stole the trailer, then the (city) ombudsman can open a theft case against me,” he said.
The committee’s deputy chairwoman, Nompumelelo Chamane, said there seemed to be a “a lot of loose ends” in the matter.
“The legal department needs to investigate what the R48 000 was paid for and how they arrived at that figure. Also we need to know what is happening with the trailer.”