A total of 42 people - including government officials - have been accused of orchestrating a corrupt land reform project worth hundreds of millions of rand.
A damning report for the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has uncovered a huge network of fraud relating to land reform projects in South Africa, casting a shadow over the future of the ANC’s land redistribution plans.
As Business Day report, the investigation turfed up 42 names involved in the fiasco, including prominent government officials. It’s said that millions of rands of illicit payments were handed out to beneficiaries and farms which did not meet the grants criteria. They had no right to receive this funding but still ended up on the receiving end.
What we know about the land reform scam
The details of names and locations are yet to be revealed. But the report recommends that those officials implicated must face prosecution for their actions. They are likely to be charged with fraud and corruption once this case makes it to court.
A total of 148 land reform projects have been flagged for suspicious financial activity, from a six-year period between 2011 – 2017. In one such project, grants were made available to beneficiaries to cover the costs of the acquisition of agricultural land.
Some of the beneficiaries weren’t aware of this scheme, whereas others hadn’t even lived or worked on a farm, instantly nullifying their rights to qualify for the donations.
Cyril Ramaphosa “knew last year”
Another revelation from the SIU concerns Cyril Ramaphosa. The document states that the president was made aware of the huge fraud operation back in March 2018 – just a few weeks after he assumed the presidency. However, it may be a little premature to accuse him of inaction.
The NPA confirmed that their investigations are still ongoing, and albeit slowly, the wheels of justice seem to be turning. So far, a total of 24 farms targeted in the land reform scam have been seized by the state, at an estimated cost of just under R400 million.
The Land Expropriation Bill is currently in its public review stage, whereby citizens have a limited time to comment. According to ANC MP Vincent Smith, the bill will only be finalised after the general elections – which are likely to take place at the end of May.