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Confusion over ‘stolen’ vehicles

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“This incident doesn’t really have much of an impact on us as we were simply supplying the vehicles on behalf of our head office."

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A LOCAL motor dealership has fallen victim to an apparent scam, which has led to a nationwide search for four passenger transporters.

Social media was abuzz yesterday with reports that six Mercedes-Benz Sprinters had been stolen from the local dealership.

Yesterday, the dealer principal at Gariep Motors, Louis Vermeulen, refuted claims that the vehicles had been stolen from the local business, explaining that the six minivans had been made available to Mercedes-Benz’s head office in order to fulfil an order from the national Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

“These vehicles were not stolen but were implicated in fraudulent activity,” Vermeulen explained yesterday.

“Mercedes-Benz South Africa authorised us to supply the six Sprinters to one of their clients. We then delivered the first four vehicles on Wednesday and released the other two on Thursday morning.

“However, no sooner had we done so, when they (Mercedes South Africa) contacted us and told us not to continue with the delivery.”

While the first four vehicles had not been recovered by the time of going to press yesterday, Vermeulen said that members of the SAPS had managed to retrieve the two Sprinters that left Kimberley yesterday, on the N12 between Warrenton and Christiana.

“This incident doesn’t really have much of an impact on us as we were simply supplying the vehicles on behalf of our head office.

“The important thing now is for head office to sharpen up on their side to avoid similar incidents from happening in the future.”

While Mercedes South Africa could not be reached for comment, the spokesperson for the DEA, Albi Modise, said that the department was not aware of the vehicles implicated in the incident.

Police spokesperson, Captain Olebogeng Tawana, said that the matter was being investigated and was of a sensitive nature.