Fifty motorised three-wheel vehicles were handed to Ekurhuleni waste pickers by the Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development in conjunction with Enviro Mobi on Wednesday.
This follows last week’s Mail & Guardian story about the controversial R27-million prepayment to Enviro Mobi, linked to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe, for the three-wheelers, which he calls karikis.
The project was launched in September last year in Tembisa but MEC Lebogang Maile said the department wanted to ensure that all waste pickers would be able to operate the vehicles properly, which is why they helped them to get their driver’s licences. Waste pickers were given their learner’s licences during the handover.
“We must make sure they can drive because, if we were to give someone these vehicles and they can’t drive, [if] they die or are involved in an accident then we have another Life Esidimeni [and people will say we have an] uncaring government,” Maile said.
He addressed allegations that the karikis were not delivered despite the prepayment to Enviro Mobi. “The reason these cars are still here is because we don’t have parking space as government. Where would we have parked these?”
When asked whether the department was involved in any litigation with Enviro Mobi, Maile said he was not aware of any, because the department head dealt with such matters.
“MECs don’t sign contracts,” he said.
Last week the M&G revealed how a war of words had erupted between the department and Enviro Mobi after the department issued a termination notice for nondelivery.
The department’s internal audit raised flags about the prepayment to Enviro Mobi and nondelivery of the karikis.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura, on Wednesday, referred the alleged financial irregularities involving the Enviro Mobi contract and prepayment to the Special Investigating Unit.
Several vehicles were damaged by bad weather while in storage and are being repaired by Enviro Mobi.
Salphy Nkoana, who belongs to the Masupatsela Co-operative in Tembisa, said she was happy because they had all been waiting to get the karikis. “I am really glad that we got training on how to use these cars and how to fix them if there is a problem. Now I can push my work.” — Mashadi Kekana