MEC Kwazi Mshengu's R500,000 BMW hire being probed by public protector

MEC Kwazi Mshengu's R500,000 BMW hire being probed by public protector

The KwaZulu-Natal office of the public protector is investigating the use of taxpayers' money to rent a car for provincial education MEC Kwazi Mshengu.

DA KZN education spokesperson Imran Keeka said on Wednesday that he had met the public protector team and confirmed that the matter was being probed.

“As the complainant in this issue, the DA was invited to make further submissions to the PP’s investigating team," said Keeka. "At the heart of the matter is the fact that MEC Mshengu and his department spent almost R500,000 – nearly R100,000 per month - on hiring a luxury BMW X7 over some five months."

Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for the office of the public protector, confirmed to TimesLIVE that the matter has been under investigation since January.

"Correspondence has been exchanged with the MEC and the HOD [head of department]. A meeting was this week held with the complainant [the DA]. The investigation is ongoing," he said.

The Sunday Times reported that Mshengu blew hundreds of thousands of rands in taxpayers’ money on the car hire because he did not want to use the state car used by his predecessor.

At the time, a letter from a Mercedes-Benz dealership purportedly advising Mshengu not to make use of his predecessor’s car - a one-year-old Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 - because it was so unsafe it could kill him was used to justify the monthly renting the BMW X7.

However, the German car maker denied that the letter was authorised by Mercedes-Benz or any of its agents.

At the time of the Sunday Times report, Mshengu insisted that he had done nothing wrong and that the car was faulty.

Keeka said the DA regarded it as extremely unfortunate that a large sum of money was spent on car hire, given that the department was cash strapped. 

“While the public protector's office cannot make any information public during its investigation, it has assured the DA that it will continue to perform its duty until they finalise the probe,” he added.