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Twelve City of Tshwane workers have been axed for stealing council fuel valued at R800 000 in recent months.
Following disciplinary hearings over the past two months as part of the city’s mission to clamp down on corruption, 12 employees in the agriculture department of the metro have been fired, 16 were more found guilty of similar offences and three resigned of their own accord after being caught stealing fuel. The employees were arrested on separate occasions over the past four months.
The dismissals and the metro’s efforts to eradicate corruption are said to have led to savings of more than 25 percent of the council’s total fuel consumption.
The savings following the clean-up operations, are estimated to amount to millions of rand, council spokesman Selby Bokaba said.
The employees, who worked for the agriculture department in Centurion and north of the city, allegedly sold the fuel to taxi drivers at discounted rates of R3 to R5 a litre.
Pretoria News reported in June that the employees managed to get hold of fuel tags necessary to fill up any metro vehicle and filled jerry cans with fuel at council depots.
“In one case, an employee took a fuel tanker, dug up storage tanks underground and off-loaded thousands of litres into (the tanks), more than once. In another case, an employee stole R206 000 worth of fuel,” Bokaba said.
The culprits were caught when an alert fleet manager in one of the departments noticed an inconsistency in fuel consumption. The metro police were then called in.
“What further aroused the suspicion of the manager were people who had no business drawing fuel, but were doing so several times a day,” Bokaba said.
According to the city, more disciplinary hearings are imminent because the metro has some evidence against suspected employees but not enough to secure a conviction. “The city could not take action against certain employees involved in suspicious transactions as evidence gathered was not solid enough,” Bokaba said.
Supervisors and managers who failed to pick up on the theft were given written warnings and some were found guilty of negligence.
“The operations are ongoing and city management has vowed to intensify its clampdown on corrupt employees in a quest to weed out criminality within its midst,” Bokaba said, adding cable theft in the metro was the next priority.
Pretoria News reported in June that seven municipal employees had been arrested at a council depot in Centurion for stealing fuel meant for lawn mowers and edge trimmers, over a period of three months.
After being unable to catch the suspects red-handed, managers at the depot turned to analysing paperwork to catch the perpetrators.
Upon comparing statements and records of fuel consumption, management at the agriculture and environmental management section at the depot realised there were thieves in their midst.
After several warnings, management called in metro police.
On a separate occasion, at the same depot in June, a 33-year-old supervisor was arrested for stealing fuel to the value of R200 000, also over a three-month period.
It was alleged the petrol was stolen from the depot using a false fuel tag.
The supervisor reported the tag missing in November but continued to use it to steal petrol.
On June 12, a city employee from the roads and stormwater department in Soshanguve, was arrested on a farm in Bultfontein for allegedly delivering municipal diesel worth R77 000 to a farmer. The farmer, when confronted by the police, threatened to set his lions on them if they tried to arrest him.
The farmer wasn’t charged.
In yet another incident, two emergency services employees were also arrested for fuel theft.
To report suspicious activity, residents can call 080 874 9263.