Farms seized in fraud case

2011-03-11 14:25

Johannesburg - Two farms - including livestock and farming equipment worth R15m - were seized on Friday in relation to a land affairs fraud case, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

This was after the department of rural development and land reform was allegedly misled into awarding a grant of about R9.7m  to Abrina 6658 to assist in the purchase of an Arcadia farm in Ladysmith, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

The department believes it may have acted on a fraudulent memorandum.

The farms were purchased and transferred into Abrina 6658, a public company owned and controlled by the Sewpersadh family in Ladysmith.

The seizure followed an investigation initiated by the department after its minister Gugile Nkwinti insisted on a large-scale probe into allegations of the irregularities.

The probe led to the arrest of Roshen Sewpersadh and three officials of the department identified as Promise Makhanya, Sibusiso Chapi and Patrick Masoka.

They have been charged and are currently out on bail.

Mhaga said the investigations centred on the fraudulent acquisition of the properties earmarked for redistribution and restitution to the farming communities who lived and worked in these farms.

"Investigations reveal, among others, that several farms were fraudulently transferred to certain entities and individuals who did not qualify as beneficiaries in terms of the said programmes.

"Fraudulent activities induced the department into approving a grant. Among the said individuals were certain officials from the department whose responsibility was to ensure that the said farms were transferred to legitimate beneficiaries," Mhaga said.

Sewpersadh and the three government officials will appear in the Ladysmith Regional Court on May 3.

Mhaga said the farms seized brought to a total of R50m the assets seized in the last six months since the establishment of the public service's Anti-Corruption Task Team.