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300 brand new State vehicles have been gathering dust in Rustenburg since 2018

  • The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied

NEWS


More than 300 marked government vehicles have been collecting a thick layer of dust after being bought by the Rustenburg Local Municipality in North West four years ago.

The vehicles, worth about R480 million, some of which have grass growing around them, have been parked inside government premises since delivery in 2018, when they were purchased.

The forgotten cars at the municipality’s mechanical workshop on the corner of Bosch and Lucas streets include sedans, bakkies, tractor-loader-backhoes (TLBs), trucks, tractors, and construction, maintenance and waste collection vehicles.

Rustenburg has one of the worst service delivery records in the country, with gaping potholes on the roads, crumbling infrastructure and uncollected rubbish blighting the landscape. The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied

According to insiders, the vehicles were acquired to replace the old and broken fleet to help with service delivery, but a protracted court battle is apparently the reason they have not been used.

An investigation by City Press discovered that many of the vehicles have been marked with municipal stickers, and have been allocated numbers.

Inside the workshop building, there are several marked VW Golfs and sedans, a black BMW that was driven by the former mayor and Nissan NP300 bakkies.https://64b1c415b1f5c7afa5f84510289ce592.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

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While some of the sedans and bakkies are in a secure building, TLBs – which are commonly used for a variety of tasks on construction sites, including for digging holes, excavation and landscaping – are rusting in the yard.

Next to the TLBs are yellow bulldozers, which are used for clearing land, as well as several eight-ton tipper trucks, which are normally used to carry sand and concrete.

There are also several seven-ton platform trucks and panel vans parked neatly alongside front-end loaders and heavy-duty trucks fitted with heavy-duty cleaning equipment.

A senior municipal employee told City Press that the vehicles were not moved undercover when there were extreme weather conditions.

He said the growing concern was that, by the time they were used, many of their parts would have become rusty and may need to be replaced.Vehicles are gathering dust at the RLM Mechanical Workshop in Rustenburg since 2017. Photo: SuppliedPHOTO:



While most of the cars are still without licence plates, some (including tractors) are mounted on bricks, as criminals have found ways to remove their tyres and other important parts.

City Press has learnt that the municipality splashed more than R141 million of taxpayers’ money to acquire the fleet from KSP Group in the initial payment in 2018, but is unable to use the cars due to the ongoing court case with the company.

The four-year-long litigation started when the municipality stopped paying for the cars, claiming that KSP Group had inflated their price. The company countered this accusation in the North West High Court, arguing that the municipality was in breach of contract after it stopped its payments.

At the time the municipality stopped paying, it had skipped two months worth of invoices, amounting to R251 million.

The municipality approached the high court to request that there be a review and that the R480 million deal, awarded in October 2018, as well as two other associated contracts, be set aside. It claimed that this would stop the “unconscionable conduct” of the company in the matter and the loss to the public purse of what is easily more than R100 million – money desperately needed by the municipality to provide services to the citizens of Rustenburg.

KSP Group defended the matter, arguing that, while its invoices were not being settled, the municipality was in possession of unpaid-for vehicles, machinery and equipment, all of which were new and being used by the municipality for their intended purposes.

In an urgent application to the high court, KSP Group director Kantharuben Govender argued that his company and the Rustenburg municipality had entered into a service level agreement in November 2018 and amended it in February 2019.

“During 2018, the respondent [Rustenburg municipality], following a tender process, called for the provision of a panel of transactional advisers for infrastructure delivery acceleration in the area of jurisdiction of the respondent for a period of three years. The appointment of the applicant [KSP Group] was subject, inter alia, to the conclusion of a written service level agreement and was to incorporate a means of acquisition of the equipment by delivery and payment over a three-year period,” read the court papers.

Govender stated that the municipality was supposed to have paid his company the full amount by the end of December 2019.

“However, in terms of the addendum dated February 8 2019, the respondent decided that it did not want to pay the amounts set out in the agreement over a 36-month period, but that the payment would be restructured as follows: R150 million paid on or before March 18 2019, a second payment of R200 million to be paid on or before July 15 2019 and a final outstanding amount to be paid on or before December 15 2019,” read the papers.

However, the Rustenburg municipality stopped paying KSP Group in June 2019, arguing that it was investigating “the circumstances relating to the tender and the execution and implementation on suspicion of material irregularities”.

The municipality also informed the company that it did not intend to comply with the payment of R200 million, which was due in July 2019.

The municipality opposed the court action by KSP Group through the then acting municipal manager, Edward Komane. He argued that the extent of the price overinflation gave rise to reasonable suspicion that there might have been wrongdoing and that the Hawks had been enlisted to assist in the investigation.

The municipality revealed that the financial irregularities were first picked up by the Auditor-General, when it became apparent that three companies – which had separate contracts with the municipality – were linked, had common directors and staff, and shared premises.

Komane revealed that each company was awarded tenders or contracts by the municipality for material at grossly overinflated sums of money “in circumstances where there were serious irregularities in the procurement processes”.

When called on Thursday, KSP Group’s legal department declined to comment, saying that the matter was still before the court and was therefore sub judice.

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However, City Press has learnt that the company and the municipality have been negotiating to reach an out-of-court settlement in a bid to resolve the issue while the court has adjourned the case.

“Negotiations are at an advanced stage [and it’s hoped] that an agreement can be reached before the next court date. Yet we understand that the municipality might end up paying the company without interest,” said an insider.

A municipal staffer said the fleet had sparked outrage among opposition parties, who questioned why the local authority had spent more than R480 million on it. They had been calling for an investigation into the matter.

DA provincial leader and councillor Luan Snyders said that the contractual dispute between the municipality and the company had been going on for a very long time.

He said the municipality had failed to disclose the details of the deal to the Rustenburg council since the tender was awarded in 2018.

“But the bid committee who sat and approved the tender should be investigated for any irregularities that might have occurred during that time,” he said.

Snyders said service delivery was disrupted because municipal vehicles were not being used.what a waste A fleet of 300 brand-new vehicles has been gathering dust in Rustenburg, North West, for years. The local municipality spent millions on the cars, tractors, construction vehicles and bakkies.

He added that he had written to the municipality in March to put the vehicles to use, but it had not responded.

Rustenburg spokesperson TJ Matebesi promised to respond to City Press’ request for comment on Thursday, but had not done so by the time of going to print.300 brand new vehicles are gathering dust in Rustenburg since 2017. The Local Municipality has spent Millions in purchasing the cars. Photo: Rosetta MsimangoPHOTO:

Efforts to obtain comment from mayor Sheila Mabale-Huma were equally unsuccessful, as she failed to answer her phone or respond to a WhatsApp message. 

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