Durban - A legal battle between the city and auctioneers has caused chaos, resulting in Friday's public auction being halted.
eThekwini municipality had been auctioning more than 200 of the city's used vehicles at the Mobeni City Fleet department.
The auction kicked off at 8am with about 40 vehicles being sold to bidders.
But by 12noon, an announcement which later caused chaos was made to halt the bidding process and later suspend the auction, as a result of a high court order that had been issued against the city.
The high court order, seen by Independent Media, was issued on July 23 by Spokes Auctioneers against the municipality and Isivuno Auctioneers and Brokers, restraining them from proceeding with the sale of motor vehicles and preventing the city from appointing an auctioneer for the process.
But the city’s supply chain management department said it only received the court order on Friday morning via an email forwarded from the legal department, informing them to halt the bidding process.
The matter which is currently under review at the Durban High Court, was brought by Spokes Auctioneers, over a tender process they claim was "manipulated to suit a certain auctioneer.”
Acting on behalf of Spokes Auctioneers, attorney Siva Chetty said the municipality acted in contempt of the court order and his client will be taking legal action. Chetty said the city's attorneys were notified of the order granted on July 31 but failed to comply.
Chetty is demanding that the city set aside Friday's auction sales.
"We have asked the municipality to confirm by close of business today that the auction was cancelled and that the sales that took place will be set aside failing which, we shall proceed with our contempt of court application and our client has instructed us to consider an action for damages as a result of the above," said Chetty.
The announcement angered bidders who stormed the administration building of the city's Fleet office, with some demanding they be refunded and vehicles which they bid for, be released to them.
City spokesperson, Priah Dass said sales from the auction will proceed but the balance of the vehicles would be held until the legal process is finalised. She assured bidders who had registered that they would be refunded within the next 48 hours.
This was the third auction by the city. In July the city came under fire for the 'blacks-only' auction, after the one dubbed the radical economic transformation auction was held last year.