News / South Africa / Courts

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
18 Jan 2019
6:35 am

Pretoria business in court as panelbeater holds car ‘hostage’

Ilse de Lange

Panelbeaters HJ Bosch & Sons has to release the Constantia Metering Services car it towed from the scene of an accident in October last year.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Moneyweb

A Pretoria business had to go to court to get its vehicle back after a panelbeater towed it away from the scene of an accident last year and allegedly held it as ransom for R24 000.

Judge Daisy Molefe this week granted an urgent order in the High Court in Pretoria confirming an agreement that panelbeaters HJ Bosch & Sons would release the Constantia Metering Services car it towed from the scene of an accident in October last year.

Constantia’s director Andre Buckle said in court papers Bosch & Sons towed the vehicle after one of their employees was involved in an accident in Pretoria North.

The tow-truck driver was told they were insured with Old Mutual, which later turned out to be a lie.

The driver was not provided with a tow slip and no agreement about towing fees and storage costs were discussed.

When Old Mutual asked the panelbeater to release the car to its representative, Bosch & Sons refused to do so unless they were paid R24 000.

Buckle said they were not entitled to this exorbitant amount and said the insurer only paid them R4 025, which was regarded as a reasonable towing fee. The rest was paid into the trust account of the insurer’s attorney as security for the balance pending a legal claim by Bosch & Sons.

Their insurer was unable to resolve the matter and the panelbeater refused to release the car unless the full amount was paid, which Buckle said was tantamount to extortion and borderline blackmail.

He said the car was used for business purposes and they urgently needed to have it repaired for use.

In addition, Bosch & Sons demanded further ever increasing storage fees. They also threatened to sell the car to defray expenses.

Buckle said he was concerned that the vehicle might be damaged, vandalised, stripped or stolen while under Bosch & Sons’ roof.

This, he said, was because Bosch & Sons was not part of the organised motor vehicle salvage industry and there was no control over the facilities it used for security or storage.

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