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Probe launched after cop prevents woman from opening case of car theft

By Michelle Cahill Time of article published Mar 1, 2019

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Kimberley  - The Kimberley police are investigating an incident where a woman, who was allegedly fleeced by a Galeshewe mechanic, was apparently prevented from opening a case of theft at her local police station.

Kelebogile Sebapalang said earlier this week that she had taken her 2017 Opel Corsa Lite to a Galeshewe mechanic approximately three months ago to be repaired, but after being presented with a R22 000 bill, she was informed by the mechanic that her vehicle had been sold.

According to Sebapaleng, she approached her local police office in Witdam on Wednesday, but was told by the officer on duty that she couldn’t open a case as the mechanic was entitled to sell her car if she had not collected it within a certain period of time.

“I tried to explain to the officer that I had not given permission for him to sell the car. It wasn’t like I had just forgotten it there. I enquired regularly about when I could collect it as I need my car to earn a living,” Sebapaleng said.

The officer on duty advised her to approach Legal Aid for assistance. “I would have loved to have done that except I don’t have money for a taxi to visit their offices and I don’t have a car any more.”

Following media enquiries on Thursday, police spokesperson Sergeant Majang Skalkie said that the police would investigate Sebapaleng’s claim that she was prevented from opening a case, and would do their utmost to assist her.

Sebapaleng said earlier this week that after numerous excuses from the mechanic about why she could not collect her vehicle, she approached the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in Kimberley for assistance.

Last week, an official from the CPC accompanied Sebapaleng to confront the mechanic only to be told that she would have to pay R22 000 for the repairs. When enquiring where the car was, the mechanic apparently said that it had been sold to defray storage costs.

The CPC pointed out that no service provider was allowed to charge storage fees without notifying the consumer of this and specifying details, for example from what point, date or event.

“A service provider may also not dispose of a consumer’s property without first obtaining a court order to do so,” the CPC stated. “Without a court order, it is unlawful to dispose of the property of another person without their consent or permission.”

Other city residents have also approached the CPC regarding the mechanic.

One man took his car in for the brake lights to be repaired. After the repairs had been completed, the dashboard caught fire. The mechanic apparently refused to release the vehicle to the owner, demanding more money.

Another resident allegedly lost two cars to the same mechanic and his case will soon be heard in the Consumer Protection Court.

In yet another case, another city resident complained that his bakkie had been crushed at PA Walter & Son after the mechanic promised that he would deliver the vehicle to him.

The CPC is investigating these claims.

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