An assessment on KwaZulu-Natal MEC of Education Kwazi Mshengu's supposedly faulty vehicle was carried out only six months after his officials advised him not to use the Mercedes-Benz, TimesLive has reported.
According to the Sunday Times, officials in Mshengu's department allegedly forged a letter from a Mercedes-Benz dealership advising him not to make use of his Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 because it was unsafe.
He has since been making use of a hired car, which is believed to have cost taxpayers R103 776.12 a month since Mshengu took office in May. This has led to Mshengu recently being accused of a car rental scam to justify not using the official vehicle of his predecessor, Mthandeni Dlungwane.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has cancelled the warranty and maintenance contract on his official vehicle and also recalled his courtesy car, after an independent investigation revealed that the vehicle had suffered damage due to external influence – which is excluded from cover under the warranty and premium drive maintenance plan.
MBSA also confirmed that it had not authorised the letter.
This damage was reportedly not seen when the vehicle was taken to a dealership last month with a flat battery. At the time, there were no mechanical faults reported.
Mshengu has since written to Premier Sihle Zikalala on how to deal with the matter, News24 reported.
"In the meantime, the head of department in KwaZulu-Natal continues to pursue the matter with all officials who were given the responsibility to attend to the issue of the official vehicle for the MEC," provincial education department said in a statement on Thursday.
- Complied by Nicole McCain