Fresh invoice adds 22 000 passengers.
A NEW report into the R6-million Buffalo City Metro taxi scandal now claims that just over 30 000 mourners were transported to four memorial services around the city for former president Nelson Mandela in December.
The figures emerged in a report from BCM’s acting director of executive support services, Ondela Mahlangu, to Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha’s office last week.
In the report, Victory Ticket 750cc, a company owned by Richard Mzwandile Sokwali, claims to have transported 30 062 to the events held on December 10, 11, and 12.
Information from BCM officials, however, claimed that all four facilities combined could only seat just under 2 500 people.
The latest figures come as the MEC for local government and traditional affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, gave the metro until Thursday to explain how the money was spent.
Another document from Mahlangu and BCM’s chief financial officer, Vincent Pillay, to Ncitha about how the tender was awarded, reveals that quotations were sourced from three companies.
They were Victory Ticket 750cc, owned by Sokwali; Mini Transport, owned by Sokwali’s wife Busisiwe Boti; and MZT Services, the ownership of which is uncertain.
Victory Ticket was awarded the tender as its quoted price of R9.946million was lower than the others.
When asked for the specifications requested in the tender, metro officials were unable to answer.
The company billed the metro R5 985 000 for its services and was paid soon after the memorial services.
This was after submitting an invoice that gave no details on the number of people transported, how many vehicles were used or what distances were travelled.
The latest report, which bears a stamp confirming it had been received by the mayor’s office, contradicts an earlier metro statement to the Daily Dispatch which gave significantly lower figures adding up to 8 000.
In that statement, metro spokesman Keith Ngesi said BCM had obtained a “detailed invoice” from the company, which showed that:
- On December 10, 2 200 people were transported to Gompo Hall in buses and taxis;
- On December 11, 3 400 people were transported to the War Memorial in King William’s Town by bus and taxi, and another 800 to the Mdantsane Indoor Sport Centre by taxi, and:
- On December 12, 1 600 people were ferried to East London’s City Hall.
When asked about the contradictions yesterday, Ngesi said he was on leave and referred queries to Mahlangu.
Mahlangu said she would only be able to respond to questions today.
According to an attendance register included with the latest report Mahlangu met with Victory’s Sokwali on January 21 and January 27.
Qoboshiyane said yesterday his office had sent a letter to Ncitha giving BCM until Thursday to come up with an explanation about how the money was spent.
“We are expecting the mayor’s report next Thursday.
“My superintendent-general has requested the same from the municipal manager,” he said.
Ncitha confirmed receiving Qoboshiyane’s letter and said she wanted to reply as early as today.
It is unclear if the report in the Dispatch’s possession will form part of the mayor’s feedback to Qoboshiyane.
Dispatch sources in the metro said the latest report containing the breakdown of numbers “had to be made to save a few people’s jobs”.
However, several anomalies appear in the information.
In one case Victory Ticket is said to have charged the municipality R65 054.35 to transport 218 people from the Duncan Village welfare centre to Gompo Hall – a distance of 2.6km.
This works out at R298 a person for a return fare whereas the normal charge for the same distance is R16.
According to the document Victory Ticket charged exactly the same amount to transport the same number of people from Kampini location in Chalumna to Gompo Hall, a distance of 50kms. A metro source said the breakdown was nothing more than a “cut and paste” exercise. There are other peculiarities. For example, despite information in the report claiming that 10 taxis seating 15 people each and one 65 seater bus were used to transport mourners from Mzamomhhle in Gonubie to Gompo Hall, resident Mluleki Senga said only two taxis had been made available.
“There was no bus in this township.
“Only two taxis were used and one was not even full that were used for East London City Hall. “These are lies,” said Senga. Pumlani village resident Mabhuti Damana also disputed the numbers.
“One taxi took us from here to town and there were only nine passengers in the taxi.
“That’s all I saw,” said Damana. —