Durban – 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 three-year-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.