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EThekwini Municipality probes vehicle fleet management
EThekwini Municipality’s Executive Committee (EXCO) has ordered a full scale probe into the management of the City’s fleet of vehicles, plant and equipment after initial investigations revealed potential acts of maladministration as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.  EXCO held its meeting at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday 21 October 2014.
 
In addition to the initial investigations conducted by Internal Audit at the Municipality’s six depots (out of a total of 28 depots), EXCO mandated City Manager Sibusiso Sithole to engage external auditors and investigators to do further probes at all 28 depots. 
 
Sithole said the investigation into fleet management in the City was prompted by concerns raised by the Audit Committee in its 2nd Quarter Report to EXCO and subsequently EXCO order the City Manager to take the necessary action to deal with the matter. Mayor Nxumalo and members of EXCO then conducted unannounced visits to two depots which confirmed the concerns.
 
Sithole said: “We have already reported the issue of fleet management and other related matters to the police in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act for an enquiry. Furthermore, a hearing to consider the possibility of suspending certain officials within the City Fleet Department took place yesterday on Monday and the final decision in this regard will be communicated to affected employees.”
 
The Vehicle Fleet report relating to the six depots, which was finalised on 16 October 2014, will provide the basis for City Integrity and Investigations Unit to conduct a detailed investigation, whilst concurrently Internal Audit finalise probing the balance of depots.
 
Among common issues identified by the report include:
• Concerns on vehicle usage analysis;
• Investigations and analysis of expenditure patterns on acquisition of vehicles in tandem with vehicle analysis;
• Vehicles staying at staging yards for longer than expected duration and not fully utilised,
• Vehicle auctions and analysis of vehicle suitability to be placed on auctions, and various allegations of disposal irregularities;
• Identification of vehicle (including plant and equipment) in excess of requirements and standing in staging yard for an extended period, and consequent hire of plant and equipment and outsourced contracts whilst vehicles remain not fully utilised.
 
The City Manager was given the discretion to suspend any officials, including senior managers interfering with the process of finalisation of the detailed forensic investigation.
 
Sithole said as part of control measures a circular has been issued suspending the purchase of any new vehicles until the investigations are concluded and a full needs analysis is completed. A similar moratorium has also been placed on the auctioning of Council assets.
 
Mayor Nxumalo welcomed the investigation adding that they were shocked by the number of irregularities they discovered during their inspection in loco. “We were shocked when we discovered that there were many vehicles and equipment gathering dust after being parked in our yards for a very long time,” he said.
 
“We are dealing with this matter hands on and we support the efforts taken by the City Manager. We are a big city with a large fleet. We need to have proper management of our fleet.”
 
The City Manager will report back to EXCO about the full financial implications of engaging external capacity. But initial estimates indicate that about R704 000 could be required for a full two weeks engagement of 12 people to cover the 28 depots and other matters.
WEATHER

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