Serial fire truck smasher

2013-03-22 00:00

A SEEMINGLY accident-prone Msunduzi Fire Department employee, who has previously driven into a wall and a hydrant, has just written off the station’s one and only new vehicle.

The vehicle was given to the unit in October last year from the municipality’s recently purchased fleet of 50 new bakkies.

This was allegedly the employee’s third accident involving council vehicles.

Questions are being asked as to why the employee, whose name is known to The Witness, was given the new bakkie to drive.

It is alleged that in a previous incident, she drove a fire engine into a wall in the station grounds, almost knocking down a fellow fireman, who had to jump out of the way.

In a second incident, a vehicle was damaged when she allegedly drove into a fire hydrant in the station yard.

In the latest incident, the employee knocked off from work at 6 am on Sunday and allegedly went on an unauthorised jaunt. The accident occurred in Pentrich Road.

No other vehicles were involved and from the state of the vehicle, it appeared that it had hit a tree or a pole.

Sources allege that as far as they are aware, there was no inquiry into the previous accidents.

Some believe that had there been an investigation, the employee could have been sent for a safe driving course and perhaps the latest accident would not have happened.

Concerns were also expressed of a possible cover-up of the latest accident.

This, sources said, was because the employee was being put forward by certain fire department officials as the number one candidate in line for promotion.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipal manager and his team were aware of the incident and that a full investigation was under way.

Zuma said a decision would be taken once the investigation was completed. “I do not want to pre-empt the process,” he said.

The chairperson of council’s community services portfolio committee, Manilall Inderjith, thanked the people who had brought the matter to the council’s attention.

Now that the municipality had a whistleblowers’ policy in place, it expected more individuals to come forward as a way to safeguard the council’s interests and ratepayers’ money.

Inderjith said he was unaware of the previous alleged accidents and said that if there was any evidence of a cover-up, all the individuals implicated would be investigated.

This is the second vehicle write-off involving fire department vehicles in the space of six months.

In the previous incident, an employee in the city engineer’s section damaged a fire engine when he took it on an unauthorised joyride and crashed into a pillar.

The vehicle had been taken to the engineer’s department to have its tyres changed. The culprit absconded, but he was soon found and disciplined.

The cash-strapped Msunduzi Municipality, which only came out of administration in January last year, renewed its ageing fleet in September last year.

The vehicles were handed over in a special ceremony at the Harry Gwala Stadium at which Mayor Chris Ndlela asked staff to handle state vehicles with care and to use them only for council work.

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