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eThekwini ratepayers have forked out R48 000 in storage costs to secure the release of five municipal vehicles that have missing doors and lights after they had been at a panel-beater’s workshop for repairs for more than two years.
Richard Govender, a former Durban metro police officer who left the force several years ago, said yesterday that his company, Pinetown Panel Beaters, had been locked in a legal wrangle with the municipality since 2010. Three vehicles were repaired. Govender said he had not been told that the cars had been released, and the city owed him more than R1.2 million for the vehicles. He was prepared to go to court.
The city’s deputy head of litigation, Malusi Mhlongo, told the municipal public accounts committee yesterday that Govender’s rights in Pinetown Panel Beaters CC had been sold in an auction on December 5 last year. The committee was also told that the vehicles had been returned with missing doors and lights.
Mhlongo said in February that the executive committee approved an amount of R1.1m to enable lawyers to bring an application to secure the return of the vehicles. The municipality’s attorneys had advised that the landlord of the property, Rashid Carrim, said he would release the vehicles if he was paid R48 000 for storage.
After the city had paid the money, the vehicles were released on May 15, but the trailer, worth R6 000, was missing.
But Govender said his company had been evicted illegally.
“What the city did is basically theft.” he said.