Tyre scam probed at New­cas­tle city de­pot

Au­dit re­view shows ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties be­tween orig­i­nal ten­der and ser­vices ren­dered

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS NDALISO [email protected]

A TYRE ten­der scam in­volv­ing three work­shop em­ploy­ees at New­cas­tle Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been un­cov­ered by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s in­ter­nal au­dit unit dur­ing a re­view of the R1.9 mil­lion ten­der.

The Daily News has a copy of the “high-level re­view au­dit” find­ings which im­pli­cate the three em­ploy­ees in the an­nual ten­der to re­pair and re­place tyres on mu­nic­i­pal ve­hi­cles.

The names of the im­pli­cated em­ploy­ees have been with­held be­cause the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.

The re­port was re­cently given to the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager, Bhekani Er­rol Mswane, who then sanc­tioned an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by an ex­ter­nal ex­pert.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, a three­year-ten­der was awarded to Tiger Wheel & Tyre in Oc­to­ber 2014 and was later ex­tended to Oc­to­ber 2018.

The con­tract stip­u­lated that the sup­ply, re­pair and de­liv­ery of tyres would be on an as-and-when ba­sis.

The au­dit found that the new tyres dif­fered from the tyres stip­u­lated in the con­tract. The tyres that were fit­ted on the ve­hi­cles were not the same brand as men­tioned in the bid doc­u­ment, and were made in China. This meant it was much cheaper than what the ser­vice provider had ten­dered. The prices charged were also not the same as those on the signed con­tract.

“There was no proof that tyres were ac­tu­ally fit­ted on some ve­hi­cles. There was no proof the tyres fit­ted were ac­tu­ally new and hence there was the huge pos­si­bil­ity that re-tread tyres were fit­ted but the ser­vice provider in­voiced the mu­nic­i­pal­ity for new tyres,” read the re­port.

It fur­ther found that the three work­shop em­ploy­ees col­luded with the ser­vice provider in procur­ing the tyres, and that one of the em­ployee’s daugh­ter worked for Tiger Wheel, which was not de­clared in the bid­ding doc­u­ment.

Mswane con­firmed the re­port and said the Mu­nic­i­pal Prop­erty Assess­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (MPAC) gave a di­rec­tive for the mat­ter to be fur­ther in­ves­ti­gated by an out­side ex­pert.

“We can’t com­ment on this mat­ter as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. We ex­pect to get the fi­nal re­port in Jan­uary,” Mswane said.

Shar­ifa Che­nia, the Mu­nic­i­pal Chief Au­dit Ex­ec­u­tive who drafted the re­port, said the ex­ten­sion of the con­tract re­quired foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause it was ques­tion­able.

The Tiger Wheel & Tyre man­ager, who only iden­ti­fied him­self as Mo­hammed, con­firmed that his ten­der was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We have noth­ing to hide. We do not sell old tyres nor do we fit such tyres on ve­hi­cles. We have co-op­er­ated with the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and we will con­tinue to do so,” he said.

Thengi Zulu, the IFP cau­cus chair­per­son in New­cas­tle and an MPAC mem­ber, said there was more that needed to be in­ves­ti­gated in the work­shop. He said there were, on record, ve­hi­cles that had been re­fu­elled us­ing mu­nic­i­pal re­sources while they did not be­long to the coun­cil.

“Some ve­hi­cles have Gaut­eng reg­is­tra­tion plates, yet we don’t have such plates in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The tyre is­sue is just the tip of an ice­berg. The is­sue will be brought be­fore a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing next week,” Zulu said.

Beb­sie Cronje, DA cau­cus leader at the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, said they were aware of the mat­ter, but the re­port had not been made avail­able to her party.

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