Automotive dealer ‘defrauds’ war veteran

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Katima Mulilo

A war veteran in the Zambezi Region, Kapalingo Lifasi, claims to have been defrauded by Bomac Auto and Engineering Services – a vehicle repair business – when he enlisted the services of the business to buy him a vehicle with his war veteran grant.

Lifasi says the Ministry of Veterans Affairs gave him a grant under the Veterans Individual Projects Programme. Under this programme, government gives up to N$200 000 to war veterans who aspire to engage in income generate activities.

Despite the vehicle repair shop receiving over N$100 000, Lifasi claims it took Bomac over a month-and-a-half to deliver the vehicle, which also turned out to be defective. Bomac Auto and Engineering Services is owned by Zimbabwean businessman Richard Machiwana.

According to retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) army captain Lifasi, who is also the regional coordinator for the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association in Zambezi, he sourced two invoices – one from Bomac and the other from Bargain Building Supplies, as his business venture involves selling hardware, and both suppliers were paid by the veterans ministry.

“In August 2014, I was informed that my project was approved by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. They asked me to send them invoices from suppliers. I could not travel to Windhoek to get invoices from suppliers there as my mother was very sick at the time. Instead, I used the locals, Bomac for the vehicle and Bargain Building Supplies for stock. Bargain honoured their obligation but it took Bomac over 45 days despite being paid N$102 000 by the ministry in November last year,” lamented a clearly dissapointed Lifasi.

He further claims the vehicle was defective and this was in breach of their agreement.

“When the vehicle, a used 2003 model  4×4 Toyota Raider was finally delivered, it did not even meet the terms of our agreement. The original engine was not there. The diff, gearbox and 4×4 system did not work at all, the mileage was very high,” moaned Lifasi.

He also lamented the fact that the vehicle had no proper documentation and he noted that he kept the vehicle for two days and decided to return it and Machiwana promised carry out repairs on the vehicle. “The vehicle had no papers such as a police clearance or customs duties. It only had an ownership certificate, which indicated the owner was from Botswana. One wonders how it even entered Namibia.  I stayed with the vehicle for two days and returned it to the supplier who promised to repair it,” he informed New Era.

The vehicle was returned to him but the same mechanical problems persisted. “I decided that I cannot keep the vehicle since it also did not have proper documentation,” he said.

When he saught help from the veterans office, he was told he could not be assisted as the terms of the agreement stipulated that the veterans ministry’s mandate ended with the approval of the project funds that had been paid to Machiwana.

It was after the issue had come to the attention of the ministry that Machiwana promised to replace the vehicle but that too could not materialise.

“He promised to give me a different vehicle within 30 days. February 24 was the deadline but nothing came and then he changed his tune and promised to refund me. He only paid N$70 000 on February 28. From there it took another two months and only paid N$14 000 on May 6. He still owes me about N$18 000. This has affected me very much as I sit with over N$70 000 worth of stock without transport,” he complained.

The veteran, who claims to have been duped, noted that he was made to believe that his vehicle would come from South Africa, as he personally spoke to a purpoted middleman, who had assured him that paperwork was being finalised for his vehicle to be imported.

Contacted for comment, Machiwana said when Lifasi initially visted his garage he was shown a vehicle which was available at the time and he signed and agreed to buy it but later on he bactracked, a situation that forced him to look for a vehicle elsewhere.

“I showed him a vehicle in the garage, which he agreed to take but he later changed his mind. We then started searching for South African vehicles on the internet and we found one. Unfortunately, it was bought by someone else before we could make the purchase. I then used my money to drive around searching for a vehicle until I found one in Botswana,” explained Machiwana.

He dismissed claims that the vehicle was defective and that he sorted out the documentation issue, as Lifasi had was unhappy the engine was not the right one and the name appearing on the ownership certificate was not that of Machiwana.

“The vehicle was in a good condition, I disagree with that statement. The only complaints he had were that the engine was not the right one and that the names appearing on the papers was not mine. This was because the previous owner had not yet changed the ownership details,” explained Machiwana.

He further noted that it was very difficult for him to deliver the vehicle timely during the festive season, as car dealers had gone on holiday and went out of his way by sacrifising his own holiday to try and find a vehicle replacement for Lifasi.

“You have to know that from December when the payment was made, it was very difficult for me to find a vehicle as he declined the one I had available. I went to Jo’burg and failed to get a vehicle there and only managed to get one in Botswana,” said Machiwana.

Machiwana confirmed partly refunding Kapalingo adding that he had used money paid to purchase the vehicle and had no substantial financial resources to refund Lifasi fully but was ready to do that now. “I firstly paid him N$70 000 and then N$14 000 as I did not have enough money because I had used the money to buy the vehicle. I am ready right now to settle what has remained,” assured Machiwana.

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