Fuel theft contributing to dire EMLM condition – councillor

The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) which has been spending huge amounts of money on fuel, reportedly have staff members stealing it from vehicles belonging to the local authority, according to a councillor.

This was recently brought to council’s attention by DA councillor Malibongwe Xhelisilo who indicated staff were contributing to the dire condition of the already “cash-strappped” municipality by stealing fuel and exchanging vehicle batteries from the municipality’s fleet.

I commend my fellow councillor, Mncedisi Mbengo, who recovered a 25 litre container with diesel in one of the municipality’s storage facilities where it was not supposed to be. I have also heard of staff taking car batteries from municipal vehicles and replacing them with old ones. Something drastic needs to done about this to set a strict precedent as a warning to the perpetrators and would-be thieves,” Xhelisilo said.

Speaking to The Rep, ANC councillor Mbengo said he recovered the container with diesel at the local authority’s public safety control room.

A security guard said he was guarding it, but I doubt that was the case. It has become apparent the looting of municipal fuel is an inside job. This is not the first time I have witnessed something like this, but it was a matter of officials not taking action after an incident of this nature had been reported. I blame the officials for not acting when such bad things were taking place in the municipality and were reported.”

Mbengo said the stealing of fuel resulted in the municipality losing a huge amount of money because it also had a problem with electricity being stolen by both businesses and individual residents.

We have a new way to ensure that these problems are dealt with so that these occurrences are not repeated. I have spoken to the relevant officials in the municipality and the matter is being investigated.”

EMLM spokesman Gcobani Msindwana confirmed the public safety department was investigating the matter by engaging all the parties that were reportedly involved, including Mbengo.

We are doing this to avoid speculation about what actually happened. We have questions that need answers, like where this happened, who was involved, which vehicle was involved and whether it was a municipal vehicle. We do not want to accuse anyone without facts because there have been rumours of this nature before and there was nothing that we could find to pinpoint an individual.

Msindwana said the municipality would not allow people to steal what belonged to the community and that whoever was found guilty would face the disciplinary processes as per the municipality’s laid-down procedure.

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