Nasrodien Gaffoor at his workshop in Wetton. Picture: Nathan Adams/Weekend Argus
Nasrodien Gaffoor at his workshop in Wetton. Picture: Nathan Adams/Weekend Argus

Mandela Day good deed leaves business owner with financial woes

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Nov 17, 2019

Share this article:

Cape Town - The adage that no good deed goes unpunished doesn’t hold true for one small business owner whose generosity has left him with huge financial woes.

On Mandela Day (July 18) 2017, Wetton businessman Nasrodien Gaffoor decided to give his staff 67% of his business - a spin on the 67 minutes of good deeds people are asked to commit to doing in commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

It was a bold move but he said it made sense at the time. “I was going to retire and I wanted them to continue and profit from the business,” he said.

At the time, business at Wetton Mechanical Repairs was good, he said.

And while he wasn’t making big profits, the workshop on Plantation Road, Ottery, was sustainable and viable. The company is a vendor for the City of Cape Town, providing mechanical services and repairs to vehicles from the various municipalities.

But Gaffoor said he’s been in a battle with council officials for more than a year after they’ve stopped sending him vehicles - without explanation.

As a result, his business has suffered a substantial blow, and the dream of handing over a successful business to his staff is now fading fast.

Gaffoor bought the workshop in June 2010 and set out to steadily grow the profits. He alleges that in order to do such business, he has had to “grease the right pockets”.

“I used to give backhand in the region of R20 000 to R25 000 to these people just to get work.

He said he eventually stopped in a bid to do honest business with the municipality - which he claimed became increasingly difficult.

“In 2017 I decided in a couple of years, I would retire. I didn’t want to sell the workshop, so I decided to give 67% of this company to my staff.”

With his Mandela Day dream dying, Gaffoor says so are his good intentions. “Ideally speaking, it (the shares) would have been worth a lot of money, if I could get the work.”

The frustrated businessman has proof of the email correspondence with city council officials from the Department of Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Workshops.

In the email chain, he begs for a response to his query about the lack of work, and is told by an official, “there was a problem with the suppliers directors as it showed 9 on CSD & DOI but SAP showed 1”. 

“The other concern is from the workshops. The last time was that the workshop is not up to standard, but they will go out and evaluate the premises.”

Gaffoor said he has only had one inspection of the premises in the nine years he’s been in business.

And he says he has proof that other vendors are making good business with the City of Cape Town

He said when a city council inspector came to his premises he had an inventory list with him of where vehicles were for repairs.

“The one vendor got 11 cars, the other vendor got five cars. The other has three cars and the other had 13 cars. At that time I had one car.”

While staff say they don’t blame their boss for what appears to be the beginning of the end for their share scheme, Gaffoor said he would continue the battle to keep the workshop open.

Weekend Argus

Share this article:

Related Articles