Cape Town - The government has forked out a whopping R10.7 million to fix nearly 1000 state-owned vehicles that were involved in crashes during the past three financial years, according to written replies from various ministers to parliamentary questions asked by the Democratic Alliance.
Out of 993 crashed vehicles, 228 were written off, with related costs covered by insurance companies; the remaining 765 were repaired at an average cost of R14 000 each.
The Justice and Correctional Services Department led the pack with 518 vehicles taken in for repairs during this period, followed by Home Affairs and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department with 196 and 136 cars respectively. State Security Agency drivers crashed 41 vehicles, Department of International Relations and Cooperation 43, and Environmental Affairs 22.
Out of the 228 cars written off, Agriculture led with 136, followed by Home Affairs with 42, Justice and Correctional Services (31) and the State Security Agency with 9. And the carnage continues, with another 31 vehicles fropm six departments taken in for repairs since April 2018.
DA spokesman on transport Manny de Freitas said the parliamentary responses told a story of the disregard shown to the vehicles by those who did not own them.
'How do you keep control?'
The responses, obtained from 20 ministers since June 2018, also revealed that more than half the national departments do not install tracking devices in their state-owned vehicles, due to cost-cutting measures and budget constraints.
Telecommunication and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said only four vehicles had trackers while Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said only those used for “service delivery” were fitted with trackers. Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said the failure to install the devices was "due to cost containment measures implemented by National Treasury and budget constraints within the department”.
Dirco Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said this was “in view of cost versus risk”; adding that it was not standard practice for vehicles in missions to have tracking devices installed.
“Vehicles are insured where required by local legislation," Sisulu said.
State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba said research is being conducted to find the best suitable system for the State Security Agency.
De Freitas said it was shocking that there was no tracking devices on the vehicles, and that cost-cutting measures were being blamed while money continued do be spent on catering.
“I am going to send follow-up questions to establish how they maintain control over the vehicles,” he said.