Tashwell Alexander, 40 and his wife Joyce, 31, said they had been saving for a car for years, so when they spotted a newspaper advert offering attractive deals they jumped at the chance to buy a 2016 sky-blue Toyota Corolla Quest.
The couple said they handed over a R17 000 deposit - which included a R2000 delivery charge - to the Johannesburg-based dealership, Commercial Car Sales, but never received their car. When they tried to call back, a woman told them the company did not exist.
“I saw the advertisement in the newspaper about a month ago," explained Alexander, "and it stood out for me as I am blacklisted and the advertisement stated blacklisted individuals were welcome.”
He spoke to a “Bongani”, who sounded professional, and bought the Corolla. Documents were filled out via email and, on 23 August, he transferred R5000 to secure the car.
“On 30 August I deposited a further R12 000," he said. "R10 000 was for the rest of the deposit and R2000 for the delivery of the vehicle.”
He was told to expect delivery of the vehicle at 8am on 31 August but it never arrived.
“I called and asked the woman to check the delivery date and track the sale on their system and she couldn't. I then asked to speak to the manager, but I was told the person was out of office.
That’s when I started getting worried," he said. "I called back minutes later and the call was dropped. I kept calling for about 20 times but no answer. We have been saving for a very long time and it’s not easy to save and see what they do now,” he says.
Joyce Alexander said she was angry with herself for not verifying the company; she later called a number advertised on the company’s website.
“I called and then a woman said there is no such company as Commercial Car Sales,” she said.
Police spokesman FC van Wyk confirmed the couple had opened a case of fraud and no arrests had been made.
We called all three numbers on the ad and all went unanswered. A fourth call went to manager Sizwe Mndlanose, who seemed shocked when he heard of the couple’s plight.
“This cannot be true. I will investigate this matter,” was all Mndlanose would say. He promised to call back within 30 minutes, but never did.