South African Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti has warned that the government will deal harshly with those found to be involved in corrupt practices across various land reform programmes.

“We should also give notice to people who are involved in these fraudulent and corrupt practices out there that we will act firmly to ensure that we punish them,” he said when receiving a list of State farms which have been recovered by the government’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU) here Thursday.

The farms were recovered following investigations by the SIU and the Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) on State properties in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

“We will not tolerate anything that will deny people the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives,” the Minister said.

“We want people out there, who have been looking at what’s happening and thinking that government and the criminal justice system are doing nothing, [to know we] have been working quietly. Today we thought we would tell [them we] have reached this point and we are going to act.”

His statement was in relation to investigations which led to the AFU seizing farms from those suspected to have acquired them through fraudulent and corrupt means after the National Prosecuting Authority received complaints in March 2009.

It was alleged at that time that farms were fraudulently sold and transferred to individuals and community trusts for the benefit of individuals, who were not eligible to be beneficiaries. It was also alleged that rightful beneficiaries were removed from beneficiary lists and replaced with fictitious people and those who were family members of the department’s officials.

Public servants allegedly colluded with several farm owners and sellers in the sale of the farms to the department at excessively high amounts.


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