BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has threatened to drag South Africa’s Revenue Services (SARS) to court to recover its cremator which was impounded in 2017 over alleged “improper documentation”.

The cremator, which was imported from Japan, was impounded in South Africa while in transit to Bulawayo by the SARS which queried claims it was destined for the country.

Council had contracted a private company to purchase and deliver the cremator.

Chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou told stakeholders on Thursday that council had since engaged lawyers to ensure the quick release of the cremator.

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“The cremator has not been delivered. It is still in South Africa after it was impounded by SARS as its documentation was said to be fraught with irregularities. The contractor went to court, but there has been no joy.

“What we have done now is to engage our lawyers to push for the release of the cremator as it is easier to get it than a cash refund. We hope our lawyers will pursue the matter to our satisfaction,” Zhou told stakeholders attending a policy dialogue meeting on private contracting by the local authority on Thursday.

The event was organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) and was attended by various stakeholders from council, academia, the private sector, legal experts, civic society and residents.

BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the meeting was necessary to “understand the merits of contracting-out key service delivery functions to private firms as opposed to producing in-house”.

“The purpose of the meeting was to find out the measures that are in place to make sure that the terms and conditions of contracts are followed by the sub-contracted companies and to gain knowledge on how contracting out as a modality for delivering services to residents is managed from bidding, contract design, implementation to monitoring,” Ndlovu said.

Council has in the past lost millions of dollars in botched deals to contracted companies which provide shoddy services despite being paid handsomely for the job.