Municipal staff caught stealing diesel

2009-04-23 00:00

Two Msunduzi Municipality employees and a taxi driver were arrested and appeared in court this week for allegedly siphoning diesel from municipal rubbish trucks and selling the fuel to taxi drivers in the greater Edendale area.

Joseph Mfuphi (57), Nhlanhla Ngidi (49) and Kena Shelembe (53) were arrested by the Pietermaritzburg organised crime unit on Sunday.

The members of the unit were conducting investigations in and around Imbali, said police spokesman Superintendent Henry Budhram, when they noticed two municipal rubbish trucks parked next to each other at Imbali Lodge premises.

“Further investigations led police to the immediate arrest of two truck drivers as well as a taxi driver. Three 20-litre plastic drums, containing diesel to the value of approximately R1 000, were found in their possession,” said Budhram.

“It was established that the three suspects were siphoning diesel from the trucks. The diesel was intended to be sold to taxi drivers …” he said.

Budhram said the suspects appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on a charge of theft from a motor vehicle. The suspects were released on warning and will appear again in court on the May 28, added Budhram.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell said that internal disciplinary action will be instituted by the municipality.

“Given the serious nature of what they have been charged with, the municipality will initiate an internal disciplinary hearing,” said Haswell.

Employees at the municipality, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Witness that it is common practice for the council staff to abuse municipal property and to steal from the municipality.

The sources said that municipal vehicles have been spotted on a number of occasions doing odd jobs for people who do not work for the municipality.

A source said that municipal tractors are sometimes seen in the northern suburbs cutting grass on private properties. The sources allege that the municipal workers are using council property to earn money on the side.

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