A senior government official is among 11 suspects expected to appear in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court in connection with dubious land deals amounting to almost R124-million.
“It is alleged that during February 2012, a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa Municipality, which allegedly bought a Rietspruit farm in Ermelo worth R11 million, yet sold for about R36.4 million in 2011, to develop a township while the municipality owned a farm that could have been utilised for the same purpose,” said the Hawks in a statement.
The investigation was conducted by a multi-agency investigation, which included the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority.
The Hawks said another whistle-blower alerted the investigators to two other deals involving two farms - a 70-hectare Malelane farm worth R44 million, which was allegedly sold to the municipality at R50 million in 2011, and a 74.2 hectare Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16 million, apparently sold for R37.5 million.
“All these three farms' actual combined value was approximately R70 million but through alleged collusion by the arrested suspects, the Mpumalanga of Human Settlements Department suffered a total loss of just under R124.million,” said the Hawks.
It is alleged that the money was channelled through five companies.
An intricate paper trail was created including applications by the municipalities, valuation reports and internal correspondence in order to justify the deals.