Pinky kills her Beemer, then buys a Merc

2011-02-26 18:32

The engine of Limpopo’s roads and transport MEC Pinky Kekana’s eight-month-old luxury BMW X5 was damaged “beyond economic repair” after being driven without coolant.T

The Beemer’s engine was then repaired at a cool cost of R250 000 to taxpayers, but Kekana’s department decided the 4X4 was “unreliable” anyway and bought her a brand new Mercedes Benz E350.

Kekana’s driver allegedly ignored warning signs to stop her government BMW, worth R700 000, before it overheated and severely damaged the engine on the road between Polokwane and Mokopane, according to documents in the possession of City Press.

Provincial roads and transport spokesperson Thesan Moodley said the department considered the acquisition of a new Merc to replace the BMW “a fruitful expenditure and for the benefit of the state”.

Kekana’s department said its own investigation had found no evidence of negligence, despite evidence that the warning light came on or that the vehicle was driven without coolant.

The car was still under a three-year or 160 000km warranty when the R252 583 bill to replace the BMW’s engine was settled.

Department head Ntau Letebele and the chief financial officer approved the engine replacement expense on condition the “said official be charged and subjected to a disciplinary process”.

Despite the experts’ reports, Moodley insists that “our preliminary enquiry found that the engine failed and there was no evidence of the vehicle being driven without coolant or any warning signs to that effect”.

Modern Autohaus, the BMW dealership, reported the car was driven for 60km after the warning light flashed.

In a May 13 2010 memo to Letebele, departmental acting general manager for internal support Thomas Lekgothoane requested approval to repair the car and confirmed the car was driven without coolant.

“As such, Motor Plan Warranty is not liable for the damages in terms of the motor plan contract prescripts which amount to about R270 000 including VAT,” Lekgothoane wrote.

He suggested that the replacing of the engine be written off as an “irrecoverable loss”. Asked if Kekana was informed about the warning light, and if so, what her reaction was, Moodley replied that “she (Kekana) was not even in the vehicle”.

Lekgothoane added that Kekana’s office had started the process to purchase the new car before government officials had decided whether to replace the BMW’s engine or dispose of the vehicle.

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