- There are more questions than answers surrounding the MEC's use of a R100 000 a month rental car
- It was only after a story was published which exposed the use of the rental did the MEC Kwazi Mshengu take the car in for repairs - 6 months after it had been deemed unsafe to drive
- The car had been damaged externally and was not covered by the maintenance plan according to an independent investigation
KwaZulu-Natal MEC of education Kwazi Mshengu drove a rental car for 6 months at a cost of R100 000 per month before taking his Mercedes-Benz to the mechanics for repairs.
Incidentally, this coincided with a report by Briefly.co.za which exposed an alleged attempt to scam the taxpayers out of pocket by driving a flashy rental.
The vehicle had been deemed unsafe to drive according to a letter Mshengu's office claims came from Mercedes.
However, the car manufacturer does not know who sent the letter and has not acknowledged actually sending the letter.
Corporate affairs manager for Mercedes-Benz SA Thato Mntambo said “on November 13 2019, the vehicle was brought in to Garden City Motors' Pietermaritzburg dealership, with several complaints”.
An independent investigator was tasked with the investigation into the problems with the car. An offer to lend the MEC a courtesy vehicle was made by Mercedes while the investigation was conducted.
“The investigation revealed that the vehicle had suffered damage due to external influence; which damage is specifically excluded from cover under the Mercedes-Benz warranty and premium drive maintenance plan.
“Based on the above, the warranty & premium drive maintenance contract has been cancelled until such time that the vehicle is repaired to Mercedes-Benz standards,” Mntambo explained.
The MEC justified the use of the rental as being a cheaper alternative than his private car and he was actually saving money, according to a report Briefly.co.za made on the MEC's response.
The exact nature of what the investigations uncovered is not known but since then sources at Mercedes have said that they cannot "touch the car".
It was taken to the dealership in October with a flat battery, which according to the employees at Mercedes was the only fault they found on the car, and not collected. This was actually the second assessment carried out on the car, Kwazi Mthethwa, spokesperson for MEC, said that he did not know when the first assessment was carried out.
The department of Education is currently looking into the matter.
“In the meantime, the head of department of education 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.”
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