Mystery Employee "Bought Yengeni's Benz"
|Reporter||Staff Reporters and Sapa|
DaimlerChrysler SA, manufacturers of
Mercedes-Benz vehicles, admitted on Monday that the ML320 luxury 4x4 vehicle
owned by ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni was bought by an employee of a partner
company under a car-bonus scheme.
DaimlerChrysler spokesperson Annelise van der
Laan said the car was bought by a senior staffer of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa).
Dasa is a subsidiary company, which successfully bid for the tender to supply
radar tracking equipment as part of the government's R43-billion arms deal.
has maintained his silence on the vehicle
Van der Laan refused to name the employee, saying
the matter was the subject of an internal investigation. She said the probe was
to determine whether there had been any unethical behaviour. However, she said
it was normal practice for staff members to be able to buy a vehicle once a year
as part of employee perks. She added that once the vehicle had been bought, Dasa
had no further control.
The company was also investigating a possible
link between the Dasa employee who bought the car and Reutech Radar Systems, the
joint-venture company that secured the radar contract.
Yengeni on Monday maintained his silence on the
vehicle as the ANC rallied to his side. But Justice Minister Penuell Maduna
warned that the government would act if it were found that the vehicle had been
acquired by underhand means. Yengeni, who heads the ANC in the National
Assembly, has played a major part in the arms deal as head of parliament's joint
standing committee on defence. More recently, he was drafted in to help resolve
the crisis in the public accounts committee, which last year called for a
wide-ranging probe of the deal.
'We won't protect Tony Yengeni'
The Yengeni car issue was raised on Monday at the
fortnightly conference in Pretoria of National Director of Public Prosecutions
Bulelani Ngcuka, Auditor-General Shauket Fakie and Public Protector Selby Baqwa.
The team reported "with satisfaction the progress that had been made in
both the forensic and criminal investigation" of the arms probe but made no
mention of Yengeni's vehicle.
Maduna said that whoever had information
regarding corruption in the arms deal should submit it to the police. "Why
do you want to keep it your own personal secret, because the moment must come
for you to be able to say 'I know about Tony Yengeni's car' and say this in
public," he said. "We won't protect Tony Yengeni ... if indeed you
have the necessary evidence against him."
The ANC said it would not suspend Yengeni before
the outcome of the investigation.
Party spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama repeated calls
saying there should not be a witch-hunt of individual MPs as the arms deal
should be investigated as a whole.
Ngonyama said Yengeni had met ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe in Johannesburg on Sunday, but he declined to give further details.
Sapa reports that parliament's ethics committee
will consider a request from the Democratic Alliance that it investigate the
circumstances surrounding Yengeni's acquisition of his luxury vehicle, committee
chairperson Sister Bernard Ncube said.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and The Star.