Lawyer linked to plunder of land...again

2011-03-05 16:44

The lawyer at the centre of this week’s Land Bank BEE fund arrests has more than his fraud case to worry about.

On Wednesday Matuba Maponya, an attorney from Polokwane; Phil Mohlahlane, former CEO of the Land Bank; Dan Mofokeng, a former Gauteng Housing MEC; and bank employee Khutso Mosoma appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud and money laundering.

The men are accused of looting the Land Bank fund meant for emerging farmers.

They were released on bail of R40 000 each.

Maponya also got a lashing in the North Gauteng High Court this week when Judge Andre Louw implicated him as a central figure in another farm dispute in Limpopo.

In this case, Maponya acted as attorney for a company which “did business in a weird, irregular and misleading manner”.

Louw said it was “alarming” that Maponya did not carry out the Land Bank’s mandate when it came to the financing of this particular farm.

“It is clear there was total confusion over the control of the business and the farm, and also who the beneficiaries of Tswelopelo Farming Enterprise were supposed to be.

“To find the truth in this case now is like finding a black cat in a dark room when the cat is no longer there,” Louw said.

He barred the respondents in the case from selling or renting the farm until such time as there was clarity on the ownership of the property.

He also found that Maponya was “unprofessional and negligent” in his handling of the R9 million he had received from the Land Bank.

“It makes you wonder what happened to the other R13 million paid into his trust account by the Land Bank,” he said.

The judge referred the case to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces and the registrar of companies for further investigation.

The Land Bank must also be informed of what has happened to taxpayers’ money, he said.

The four men at the centre of the Land Bank scandal were arrested by the Hawks this week, nearly three years after rumours of unlawful activities first began to emerge.

It has been alleged for some time that the men financed their luxury cars and extravagant lifestyles with money intended for poor and emerging black farmers.

Musa Mchunu, spokesperson for the Land Bank, said they would continue their investigations into irregularities at the Agri BEE fund and other departments within the Land Bank.

He said they would finalise all investigations with “diligence”.

The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo also wants to see Mohlahlane prosecuted for allegedly lying about his qualifications when he applied for the position of head of the Limpopo agriculture development corporation.

Last year external auditors established that Mohlahlane had never passed matric and that his “degrees” were from nonexistent US universities.

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