Splurge on cars for deputy mayor

2008-12-14 00:00

The Msunduzi Municipality has allegedly spent more than R1 million in transportation costs for deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks in the past two years.

About R700 000 was spent on hiring cars for Dirks to use on official municipal business, while the municipality recently bought a new car costing about R300 000 for the deputy mayor.

Concerns have been raised by some of the council employees about what they call wasteful expenditure of ratepayers’ money on hired cars for the office of the mayor and other municipal departments.

There are vehicles from car rental companies parked at municipal facilities and sources told The Witness these are hardly ever used, but cost the council hundreds of thousands of rands a month.

The municipality began hiring cars for Dirks after a council-issued Mercedes Benz (NPC2) was damaged in a storm in Panorama Gardens in 2006.

A source in the municipality’s fleet management unit, whose name is known to The Witness but who wished to remain anonymous, alleges that the cost of hiring cars for the deputy mayor over the past two years amounted to R700 000.

He alleged that the municipality paid R35 000 per month to car rental companies.

Two weeks ago the municipality took delivery of a brand-new Mercedes Benz C220, with number plates NPC2 and valued at more than R300 000, for use by the deputy mayor.

But the Mercedes E-class hired for Dirks was not returned and The Witness learnt that the car will be returned in mid-January.

Dirks told The Witness on Friday that the first NPC2 was replaced by the car delivered to him recently.

He said the first car was used by his bodyguards in his absence to go to Panorama Gardens where a storm damaged it.

Dirks said the council hired cars for him to use until the damaged one was replaced. The cars were not hired every month of the past two years.

“I used the car on and off. But definitely it was not every month … I don’t know at what cost the car was hired because that is the responsibility of the procurement unit,” said Dirks.

He said he had conducted his own inquiries and established that the hired car cost the municipality R29 000 a month, not R35 000.

“In the history of this municipality there has always been an NPC2 for the deputy mayor.

“I have my own car, which I use for my personal matters.

“I cannot go to municipal official business in a taxi or on foot,” said Dirks.

When asked whether he queried why a car was not being bought for him, instead of spending money on hiring cars, Dirks said: “The officials replace cars, not me. My [personal assistant] and I have been insisting that a car be bought.”

He said the hired E-class will be returned at the end of this month after consultation with municipal manager, Rob Haswell.

Haswell said he has given the instruction to have the hired car returned as it is no longer needed.

thandom@witness.co.za

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