JMPD ‘Fan­tam’ pay­ment

Shop faces ruin Cop cars held

Saturday Star - - FRONT PAGE - SAMEER NAIK

AJOBURG au­to­body shop is owed hun­dreds of thou­sands of rand by the City of Joburg and the Joburg met­ro­pol­i­tan po­lice depart­ment (JMPD), af­ter they failed to pay the com­pany for al­most three months.

Fan­tam Au­to­body, which op­er­ates in the CBD and has an on­go­ing con­tract to fix JMPD cars, was asked to fix 26 ve­hi­cles in July this year.

How­ever, the com­pany hasn’t re­ceived a cent from the coun­cil. It had ini­tially fixed 13 of the ve­hi­cles, with costs at nearly R500 000, and re­leased them to the JMPD in Au­gust.

But af­ter not re­ceiv­ing any money for the work done, the own­ers re­fused to com­plete work on the re­main­der of the ve­hi­cles, which was likely to cost a fur­ther R1 mil­lion.

The re­main­ing 13 metro po­lice cars, “which are 80% fixed” and in­clude Hyundai, Opel, Hilux, Isuzu bakkies and Ford Ranger mod­els, are parked at the work­shop in the CBD.

Co-owner Aadil Halim said his busi­ness had taken a huge knock. “When we took on the JMPD con­tract, we got a loan to be able to pur­chase the equip­ment and tools needed (for the job),” said Halim.

“But now that we haven’t re­ceived any of the money, we’re un­able to pay back the com­pany that gave us the loan, and have been threat­ened with le­gal ac­tion.”

The out­stand­ing amount is R391 000 for the ve­hi­cles re­leased. “Once we didn’t see any money com­ing from the city, we slowed down on work.

“We’ve had some is­sues with the coun­cil be­fore so we were wary. We were put un­der pres­sure to fix these po­lice ve­hi­cles be­cause they needed to be on the road.

“We worked hard to meet the dead­line so it’s very dis­ap­point­ing that the money didn’t come.”

Halim has been hound­ing the city for three months over the money and con­tacted “ev­ery­one pos­si­ble” from the City of Joburg and JMPD, but no­body could give him any an­swers.

“I have lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve con­tacted them, vis­ited them, and sent them e-mails. I never got any real re­sponse. At most I was told that they were fol­low­ing up on the pay­ment. No one was will­ing to di­vulge more.”

The lack of pay­ment has had knock-on ef­fects on their busi­ness. “I’ve reached the end of my tether and all my sup­pli­ers and cred­i­tors are tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against me.

“The lack of pay­ment has re­ally dug us into a deep hole, which has af­fected the busi­ness and our per­sonal lives.”

The debt in­curred from tak­ing loans had re­sulted in threats from their land­lord to lock them out of their premises.

“We’ve known the land­lord for over 15 years. It kind of ru­ined the re­la­tion­ship we had with him.”

They were also strug­gling to pay staff. “My dad and I are the type of peo­ple to al­ways pay staff first be­fore we take home a salary.

“We’re bat­tling to pay our staff on a weekly ba­sis.”

He was con­cerned about what would hap­pen if the money from the coun­cil wasn’t paid soon.

“I have no clue what I’m go­ing to do. I don’t know what I’m go­ing to tell my staff about their wages ei­ther.”

JMPD spokesper­son Wayne Min­naar said the depart­ment was pay­ing the bill. “Fan­tam Au­to­body’s ac­count should be set­tled by next week”.

Ac­cord­ing to the JMPD fleet man­ager Pinkie Radise, the de­lay was caused by mov­ing of funds to the ap­pro­pri­ate bud­get. We apol­o­gise for any in­con­ve­nience it may have caused.”

City of Joburg spokesper­son Nthatisi Modin­goane said an in­surance bro­ker was re­spon­si­ble for the pay­ment. “The in­surance bro­ker has as­sured the city that a pay­ment of R391 063 will be made by end of busi­ness to­day (yes­ter­day).”

At 4pm yes­ter­day, Halim tried to call the city again. “I wanted to find out where my money was, and they gave me a mouth­ful. They told me they couldn’t help me be­cause I went to the news­pa­pers.”

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