Nkomazi municipal vehicles seized over ‘unpaid debt’

Several of the municipality's vehicles were seized last week due to alleged unpaid debt. Seen above is the fleet of service delivery vehicles the municipality bought last year.

MALALANE – Fifteen of the municipality’s cars were seized by the Sheriff last Monday, reportedly to cover unpaid fees to a service provider.

This led to concerns that service delivery in the area would be severely impacted and prompted the local DA councillor, Ms Mariette Preddy, to investigate the matter. According to acting municipal spokesman Adv Bernard Shabangu, the court order to impound the vehicles stemmed from a disputed service contract.

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A company claimed it was appointed in 2009 and never paid for services rendered. It obtained a court order to repossess the vehicles to recoup the amount allegedly outstanding.

“The municipality considers the contract and the claims made by the applicant on the strength of the contract as fraudulent and baseless. Both the basis of the order and procedures followed by the applicants to obtain the order are currently being challenged by the municipality,” Shabangu stated.

Shabangu explained that no official appointment letter from NLM or proof that the service was delivered could be provided and that the municipality considered the appointment unlawful.

Preddy, on behalf of the DA, submitted a formal question to executive mayor,  Cllr Thulisile Khoza, seeking clarity on the issue. If the court finds the municipality guilty of non-payment, the DA stated that disciplinary action must be taken against those responsible for failing to pay suppliers on time, including the municipal manager, who is the accounting officer.

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NLM filed an urgent application with the North Gauteng High Court last week to overturn the order. The respondents were given until Tuesday to file their reply affidavits and a verdict is expected tomorrow.

An interim order was issued to suspend the previous one, pending the court’s verdict. Shabangu explained that the 10 municipal vehicles currently in the Sheriff’s custody will, therefore, be kept until the judgement.

Shabangu stated the municipality does have other cars and assured residents that they are doing everything they can to ensure any disruption of services are minimised.

Residents are urged to report any municipal issues via NLM’s 24-hour customer care line on 013-790-0990.

Retha Nel

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