Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2001-03-26 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

DaimlerChrysler SA Probes Yengeni Car Claim

Publication  Business Day
Date 2001-03-26
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

DAIMLERCHRYSLER SA has launched an internal investigation into claims that African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni received a luxury 4X4 vehicle which was ordered as a “staff vehicle” by a company linked to the R43bn arms deal, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.  

However, the company’s media manager, Lulama Chakela, sought to distance DaimlerChrysler SA from the allegations saying: “Please understand, once the car was sold to DASA (DaimlerChrysler Aeronautics SA), Daimler Chrysler SA’s responsibility ends there. What happens beyond that is not our responsibility.”  

Asked why DaimlerChrysler had launched an internal investigation if this was the case, she said: “Because people like you are asking these questions.” The Sunday Times newspaper reported that the vehicle in question was a Mercedes-Benz ML320 4X4, totalling R359 000 without extras, when Yengeni took possession of it nearly three years ago.  

Computer printouts from DaimlerChrysler, which the Sunday Times has in its possession, show the 4x4 was ordered as a “private staff vehicle” by DASA. It was dispatched from the car manufacturer’s East London plant on September 15, 1998, and arrived at the company stockyard on October 19. DASA, through a joint venture, secured a contract to supply tracking radar for the corvettes bought in the arms deal package.  

Chakela told Sapa on Sunday she was not in a position to give further information on the internal probe, especially as documents had been subpoenaed. “We don’t have the information.” Asked how they would conduct an internal probe if the information was no longer available, she said: “We will see if there is any other trail we can go to.”  

Chakela also sought to distance her company further, saying DASA no longer existed. According to the Sunday Times, DASA was incorporated two years ago into the European Aeronautic Defence and Company (EADS). Chakela said DaimlerChrysler South Africa could not comment on the matter as EADS “reported to Germany”.  

Meanwhile, Yengeni said ge will consider his legal options following the Sunday Times allegations. “I will not submit myself to a witch-hunt by the Sunday Times,” he said in a statement. “There is a due process of law underway into the so-called arms deal. I respect this process, I will submit myself to it, as well as fully co-operate with the investigation.  

“Given the seriousness of the allegations made by the newspaper today, I shall ask my lawyers for advice on the contents of the article,” he said. 

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.