Church claims it was ripped off

THE congregants of the Holy Christian Apostolic Church have vowed to get their R51000 back from Bargain Tents.

THE congregants of the Holy Christian Apostolic Church have vowed to get their R51000 back from Bargain Tents.

Congregants responded to an advertisement in this newspaper two years ago to buy a tent. They said they were hoodwinked into paying for two tents after the seller admitted that they had been sold a tent of inferior quality.

Bargain Tents operate from 212 Archary Road in Clairwood, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Pastor Bright Mudau said they approached Bargain Tents in 2007 to buy a tent worth R31000.

"We wanted a quality tent that would withstand stormy weather and were assured that their tents were the best. But when we pitched it it hardly stood for a month, though it had a 10-year guarantee," Mudau said.

He said it kept tearing and collapsing. Throughout the year the tent was taken to Durban for repairs, the pastor said.

"It was only in December that the owner of the company, Mahomed Suleman, admitted the tent was of inferior quality and not suitable for church purposes. He said that if we were willing to pay a further R31000 he would make us a quality tent," Mudau said.

They paid R20000 and agreed that the balance would be paid within three months, but they did not know that Suleman could not be trusted, Mudau said.

"The tent was not delivered within seven days as agreed and it was not delivered to us as promised.

"We had to collect it from their Benoni office. It was no different in quality than the first one, so we cancelled the deal immediately."

He said that angered the businessman.

"Suleman called us and said they would no longer do business with us and would refund our money within seven days. That was in January 2008," he said.

Mudau said every time they called the Durban office Suleman or his wife gave them some excuse.

"This is causing a rift between me and the congregants, who are now reluctant to raise funds because they think we cannot manage the funds and are unable to give a convincing account of their money," he said.

Suleman said they had honoured their guarantee.

"The guarantee in question pertains solely to workmanship and to that end we had upheld our pledge and had repaired the tent at no charge to Pastor Mudau on the occasion that he had reported damages to the tent," Suleman said.

He denied that they were withholding the congregants' money unfairly.

"It is not true that the pastor has not been refunded," Suleman said.

"We gave them R20000 as soon as the second tent was returned. We will fax proof of the refund as soon as our accounts department retrieves it."

Efforts to get proof of the refunds have been futile.

The Department of Trade and Industry has agreed to investigate.