The owner of a Mercedes-Benz that was partially flooded during a storm, has been unable to drive for almost 18 months due to a tussle over who is responsible for its break down.
Durban - ALLEN Naidoo is the owner of a luxury vehicle worth nearly R800 000, but has been unable to drive for almost 18 months. The engine of Naidoo’s Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 ceased to work in July 2017.

Since the car broke down, the Westville businessman, 68, has honoured his monthly car payments and insurance premiums of about R12 000.

However, neither his insurance company (Santam) nor NMI Umhlanga, the dealership that sold him the vehicle in 2015, were prepared to take responsibility for the damages.

Instead, NMI Umhlanga has indicated they were prepared to fix the vehicle provided he paid R627 433.30 for the required repair work.

Naidoo said being without his vehicle has caused him distress and inconvenience.

In July 2016, his car was partially flooded while it was parked at the Pavillion shopping mall during a heavy downpour. Santam paid for the clean-up and other related repair work.

He said the dealership had done a thorough check of the vehicle afterwards and confirmed the repairs were done satisfactorily. The vehicle worked well until smoke poured out of the car’s engine compartment, in July 2017, while Naidoo drove it.

After checking the vehicle, NMI Umhlanga reported that a hole had formed in the car’s cylinder block as a result of water ingress.

NMI Umhlanga claimed it was due to the vehicle being flooded previously. Therefore, the manufacturer’s (Mercedes-Benz) warranty was not applicable.

The car came with a 100 000km warranty from Mercedes-Benz and its odometer reading at the time of the break down was 28 000km. The dealership have since escalated the matter to Mercedes-Benz SA.

Naidoo turned to Santam for assistance. Santam had the vehicle assessed by Mechanical Apppraisals CC. In their report, they concluded the only reason for engine failure was a broken connecting rod, and not as a result of water ingress.

Allen Naidoo, the owner of the Mercedes-Benz that was partially flooded during a storm, has been unable to drive for almost 18 months due to a tussle over who is responsible for its break down.

On the basis of the report, “my insurance company denied any liability and maintained that the engine failure was due to mechanical failure”, said Naidoo.

“Both the insurance company and Mercedes-Benz have denied any liability. This has had a huge impact on me personally and my business as I don’t have the funds to purchase a new vehicle.

“I have been forced to borrow a vehicle to commute from home to my business in Malvern and for other personal uses.

“Due to the stress, I was hospitalised in May,” Naidoo said.

Robert Laubscher of law firm Strauss Daly, the company representing Mercedes-Benz SA, said: “We can unfortunately not comment on the matter due to the fact that legal proceedings have been initiated.”

The matter has gone to arbitration.

Sunday Tribune