The Greater Tzaneen Municipality in Limpopo suffered a minor scare on Wednesday when the official luxury German SUV vehicle used by Mayor Maripe Mangena was repossessed by the sheriff of the court.
The sheriff in Tzaneen executed a court order on Wednesday morning. The sheriff attached and took away Mangena’s R1.2 million Mercedez Benz GLE 350 in full glare of the media.
The action was initiated by Expetera, a service provider owed R110 000 by the municipality. The company asked the court to attach movable and immovable assets belonging to the municipality after it failed to pay for services rendered.
Tzaneen Municipality spokesperson Neville Ndlala on Wednesday confirmed that the sheriff had repossessed the mayor’s vehicle, but said he had since brought it back after the municipality paid its outstanding debt to Expetera.
“The car is back. There was a case with a service provider, but we have since settled that debt,” Ndlala said.
“The sheriff came with the service provider’s invoice only today when he was attaching the municipality’s assets, and that shows this was orchestrated to embarrass us.”
Ndlala said the mayor’s vehicle was being used as a political by opposition parties in the municipality to discredit its leadership. The Tzaneen Municipality is led by the ANC.
“There are three other vehicles with municipality’s stickers, but the sheriff chose to repossess the mayor’s car, which is not branded. It’s politics. We know that the DA is behind this,” Ndlala said.
Ndlala blamed opposition politics for peddling information that the municipality was in debt, saying the municipality’s liquidity was never in doubt.
“The municipality is in good financial standing. We are delivering basic services to the community, we are collecting bills and getting grants from the state. As of June, we had a healthy bank balance of R54 million. We have never failed to pay our service providers,” Ndlala said.
Earlier this month, the municipality purchased vehicles worth a combined R1.6 million for the newly-elected Mangena and the council speaker, despite owing creditors more than R20 million.
At the time, Ndlala defended the purchase of a new vehicle for the mayor was necessary for several reasons, saying the previous mayor’s vehicle was bought in 2011 and had exceeded 150 000 kilometres, meaning it was no longer under a motor plan.
He also said the municipality purchased an SUV considering the terrain that it operated in as the mayor had to travel to mountainous rural areas to engage communities.
Ndlala said the purchase of the new vehicle would, instead, save the municipality money and that the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) handbook allowed for the replacement of the mayor’s official vehicle if it has exceeded 150 000km.
Jacques Smalle‚ a DA member of the Limpopo provincial legislature, said buying a vehicle for a mayor was a wasteful and fruitless expenditure.
– African News Agency (ANA)