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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Fake diesel alert: Are you pumping your ride with paraffin?

Filling stations across all nine provinces have been found taking motorists and the government for a ride by dispensing fake diesel.

The alarming findings of an investigation by the Department for Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) at various filling stations across the country, revealed 70 fuel distribution sites were selling diesel with “compromised quality”.

The altered diesel is allegedly mixed with illuminated paraffin and could have serious implications for vehicle engines and lead to mechanical problems in the long run.

Fake diesel practice amid skyrocketing fuel prices

The practice of diesel fuel alteration by unscrupulous wholesalers and filling stations attempting to get “more mileage” from consumers, comes as fuel prices continue to skyrocket.

More pain at the pumps predicted for February

According to data predictions, another fuel price increase is set to hit motorists’ pockets at the pumps next month.

As from 7 February, the price of 93 unleaded petrol could spike by 14 cents a litre with 95 unleaded by 11 cents. Diesel is expected to increase by nine cents a litre.

ALSO READ: Cheer over as AA forecasts fuel price increase for February

2022 DMRE probe

The DMRE performs “regular and random” testing on fuel samples from service stations in all provinces.

DMRE spokesperson Ernest Mulibana said: “This information collection is what we do regularly and randomly at all stations across the country. The information was collected between April and December last year and showed 70 stations had sold diesel with compromised quality.” 

‘Fake diesel filling stations’ per province

The governmental probe found filling stations with fake diesel operating in all nine provinces. Take a look:

  • Mpumalanga – 9;
  • Limpopo – 15;
  • North West – 13;
  • Kwazulu-Natal – 13;
  • Gauteng – 5;
  • Western Cape – 4;
  • Free State – 4;
  • Eastern Cape – 1; and
  • Northern Cape – 6

Mantashe’s stern warning about diesel fuel alteration in 2022

Back in 2022, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe made mention of a concerning rise in the trend of altered diesel sales during a parliamentary sitting.  

At the time, the minister warned: “Those who mix diesel with paraffin and sell to unsuspecting customers must stop this practice. It is illegal. Service stations found with adulterated diesel will face immediate closure and prosecution.”

In the light of this, as well as the threat of fake diesel for vehicle consumption, the Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) and the Automobile Association (AA) called on the DMRE to take punitive steps against these 70 filling stations.

Tax evasion

However, when asked by News24 whether any criminal cases had been opened after its probe, the department said it followed a prescribed process to address non-compliance, “including reporting the non-compliant service stations to SA Revenue Service [Sars] because diesel fuel adulteration is a form of tax evasion”.

FRA chief executive Reggie Sibiya told IOL they were aware of this practice by unlicensed and licensed wholesalers.

“These illegal wholesalers sell this substandard product also directly to motorists, something also classified as illegal as the law only allows retailers to sell to the public. The department needs to curb these illegal wholesalers who are the root cause,” said Sibiya.

Mantashe must name filling stations – DA

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance (DA) Western Cape spokesperson on Mobility, Derrick America, has called on Mantashe to release the names of the four petrol stations in the province which are “are engaged in the illicit practice of selling watered-down diesel mixed with illuminated paraffin”.

“Mantashe must ensure these petrol stations are named so that residents of the Western Cape can be made aware of the stations that are selling fake diesel. Not only are these fake diesel fuels being sold at the exact same price as approved diesel fuels, but could be very harmful to vehicles,” the DA MPP said.

“The act of blending fuels not only jeopardises the safety of vehicles, but also constitutes illegal and fraudulent activity that exploits consumers financially.”

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