Publication: The Argus Issued: Date: 2001-03-26 Reporter: Editor:

My Car Feels like Flying in a Jet - Yengeni

Publication  The Argus
Date 2001-03-26
Web Link

Tony Yengeni loves his Mercedes-Benz 4x4 because he says it makes him feel as if he is "flying in a jet". 

Yengeni said in a newspaper interview published last year: "It's very fast and very stable. One feels as though you're flying in a jet." 

He openly admits that he chose the luxury R359 000 vehicle, now at the centre of a "kick-backs" row connected to South Africa's R43-billion arms deal, not because he wanted to ride off-road, but because he believed it was trendy. The man, whose first car was a VW Beetle back in the days of the struggle, said in the interview: "I'm a Mercedes-Benz man. I bought a 4x4 not because I want to drive around in the bundus, but because it's the in-thing and I'm part of the trend. 

'I'm not immune to society's fashions' 

"I'm not immune to society's fashions. I'm part of society and influenced by it." 

But having acquired the glitzy number, all shining chrome, bull bars and metallic finish specifically designed to be noticed, Yengeni complained that his trendy possession drew too much attention. "At a service station people will get out of their cars to come and have a look. Being a public figure I sometimes desire a bit of privacy," he complained. His poodle, Sweetie, and dalmatian, Honey, like the 4x4 almost as much as Yengeni, although they squabble like a pair of spoilt children when they travel with him. "So they don't fight and to maintain some kind of order, the poodle sits next to me in front, while the dalmatian sits at the back," he said. He admits he enjoys speeding, but tempers this confession with the remark that he is a "disciplined driver". 

While the ANC Chief Whip derives great pleasure from driving his shiny car, he doesn't do anything as lowly as putting air in tyres. 

When asked by the reporter when last he had checked the spare wheel, he gave a somewhat studied, Marie Antoinette answer: "I didn't know it had one." 

With acknowledgement to The Argus.