Sales of trucks swindle

Starting a trucking business has never been easy.

Starting a trucking business has never been easy.

Most people make this even a daunting task because they do not research companies in which they want to invest their money.

Adding to the complexities are the fly-by-night companies that have no intention to deliver goods bought from them.

Mavis Maobane and her four colleagues invested their retrenchment packages with Blue Sands in 2006 after they were laid off, but they have nothing to show for their hard earned money.

It is not clear whether or not they will ever get their money back since the employees of Andre Bothma of Blue Sands, whom they invested their money with, do not want to reveal his whereabouts.

One of the employees Consumer Line spoke to said Bothma was admitted to a hospital after he suffered a heart attack two weeks ago.

The other employee in a senior position Consumer Line was referred to denied knowing Bothma at all.

Maobane and her colleagues wanted to start a trucking business to earn a living after they were retrenched in 2006. She had secured a trucking business long before they were retrenched when she recruited her colleagues to start theirs, she said.

"We convened a meeting where we all agreed that each one of us would register the trucking business in his or her own name to avoid conflict, but agreed to rent and use one communal office," she said.

They later met Bothma who agreed to lease to them five trucks he already had.

They all paid a total of R819025 to lease five trucks from Andre Bothma of Ukubekezela Logistrics with the intention of buying them, said Maobane.

Two months after signing her lease agreement, she learned that her truck was sub-contracted to a company that delivered coal without her knowledge or permission.

Her colleague Simon Ramasodi discovered that his truck was also sub-contracted to a coal mine when it had had a breakdown.

"I knew about it when Bothma told me I had to pay an additional R14000 to have the starter of the truck fixed," Ramasodi said.

He paid the amount, and that was the last time he heard from Bothma or had a meaningful conversation with him, he said.

Ramasodi said he paid a total of R210000 into Bothma's account, thinking it was safe since he had been promised a refund if the truck was not delivered within two months.

"I am very bitter and would die a sad man if I do not get my money from Bothma," he said.

He has not found alternative employment and says he is very miserable because he cannot get hold of Bothma when he calls his office.

Sophie Masebe said she too had tried to get her money back from Bothma without any luck.

"His employees are trained to hide his whereabouts, but when you say you want to buy a truck Bothma would surface from the overseas trip they said he had taken," she said.

Consumer Line spoke to Nadine, who denied Bothma was hospitalised or that she knew him at all.

l Mthandazo Phillemon Mkhize also claims he was ripped off by Giles Lelahle, a manager of Aectebis Transport.

Lelahle tried to bribe Consumer Line in 2006 to suppress an article on complaints about his unfair business practices.

Mkhize, of Oudtshoorn in Western Cape, said in January 2006 he gave Lelahle R50000 after he had promised to get him a 22m-long truck.

Nothing happened until August 2006 when Sowetan published an article about Lelahle's alleged unfair business practices after Mkhize decided to cancel his deal and demanded his money back.

"Lelahle promised to pay me on condition I did not approach Sowetan for help," said Mkhize.

Lelahle obliged but paid Mkhize only R10000.

"Can you please help me to recover the rest of my money," pleaded Mkhize.

Consumer Line could not get comment from Giles Lelahle.