Deputy Minister's vehicle belongs to state

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pretoria - The vehicle purchased for official use by the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Hlengiwe Mkhize, belongs to the state and is a tool to execute duties, says the Deputy Minister's spokesperson, David Hlabane.

This comes after certain media reported that the Deputy Minister had bought a Porsche Cayenne at a cost of nearly R760 000.

Hlabane, in a statement explained that Mkhize had had no vehicle to use on Pretoria after the former Deputy Minister expressed an interest in purchasing the vehicle she had used during her term of office.

"The official vehicle in question belongs to the state and is a tool to execute duties. It should be understood that the value of the vehicle is by far below the prescribed limit in terms of the Ministerial Handbook," said Hlabane.

He said the vehicle was purchased after consideration by the department to the nature of Mkhize's job

"Safety was the major consideration. It would have been irresponsible for the department not to consider the fact that the Deputy Minister's responsibilities demand that she should travel across the country, even to areas where roads are difficult. Our correctional facilities are found all over the country, in both urban and rural areas," he said.

He added that the last few months, the Deputy Minister has visited correctional centres in all the nine provinces, and has travelled to different parts of the country to implement government policies and programmes.

Hlabane said that the Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi had issued a statement explaining government's position on official vehicles and that it was a matter that has received due attention from government.

He said the report was sensationalized and blown out of context. It was also incorrect as the vehicle was a 2008 basic model and the accessories referred to in the article are standard built-in features.

The department has further taken exception to the reporter's unwillingness to allow space for consultation before going to press.

"We are of the view that the media query was only sent to legitimize the story, with no interest whatsoever in getting a response. The query was received at 5.39pm, further questions were later sent to clarify initial questions.

"Despite that, we were still expected to respond before 7pm irrespective of our explanation that the principal would only be available after 8.30pm."