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‘Missing’ municipal vehicles raise eyebrows

Hoofnuus / Headline
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There are serious allegations that five vehicles of the old fleet belonging to Joe Morolong municipality disappeared a day before the December 15, 2015 auction conducted by Root-X auctioneers from Johannesburg.

The alleged list of vehicles that escaped the bidding process are two Isuzu bakkies bearing registration numbers CMM 633 NC, CGG 757 NC two Toyota bakkies with registration numbers CCX 366 NC, CCX 361 NC and a Toyota Land Cruiser registration number CBN 452 NC.

Insiders allege that if the five vehicles ever went into the invoice book of the auctioneer then their prices had been horribly manipulated to meet the interests of certain top officials within the municipality.

There are suspicions that they were “sold” in absentia to escape the public bidding process or that they were a clandestine Christmas gift to certain officials.

It is alleged that a record book used by the then security company that recorded the going out and coming in of vehicles at the main entrance and exit of the municipality cannot be found that could reveal the exiting of the vehicles. It is alleged that the security company burned the books after the expiry of its contract, raising further eyebrows.  

In February this year, the Kathu Gazette met the mayor councillor Dorcas Moremi and questioned her about the alleged incident. She strongly denied the allegation though she concurred that the news was in circulation. She said that politics was behind these mere allegations destined to tarnish the image of the municipality.

Equally the municipal manager of the municipality Mr Tsepo Bloem was interrogated by the Kathu Gazette journalist on April 21, 2016 on the matter. He also concurred that rumours have been spread to that effect but he categorically said that these were malicious and baseless allegations laid against the municipal officials. He revealed the whole list of the intended disposable assets that was presented to council on October 28, 2015. However this was not the final invoice from the auctioneer that detailed the prices of assets that went through the bidding process and so could not be used as a barometer to determine the extent of transactional transparency contained.

The municipality bought 48 new fleet vehicles in October consisting of bakkies, trucks, graders and etc that allegedly overwhelmed the size of the rural-based municipality with the intention of disposing the old fleet.

There is a plethora of questions being raised in the corridors after the damning allegations. Most of the white fleet belong to the Toyota brand and the question is why the municipality opted for the third part dealer instead of going directly to the Toyota dealer.

The new big trucks and the yellow fleet are alleged to be under-utilised. The fleet is alleged to be more than drivers at the municipality creating an ambiguous planning or else there was an ulterior motive behind the transaction.

Asked why the municipality opted to appoint a Johannesburg-based auctioneer rather than locals, Mr Bloem said that choice of auctioneers was solely discretionary as long they were auctioneers in South Africa.  Asked whether there was fiscal prudence in the buying of this big fleet by the municipality that possibly surpasses the number of qualified operators employed, he said that this was a long term plan that will sustain the municipality for almost a decade from now. The fleet was bought on rent-to-own basis for the next thirty six months.

 

Part of the fleet vehicles on rent-to-own in Joe Morolong municipality.