Official in bribes-for-farms scam

2011-08-31 14:28

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has launched an investigation into allegations that its regional manager in Mpumalanga took bribes in exchange for leasing out state-owned farms.

Rural and Land Reform national spokesperson Eddie Mohoebi said that an investigator has been appointed to produce a report that would determine if internal charges could be laid against the department’s Gert Sibande regional manager, Shakespeare Sibanyoni.

Gert Sibande region is largely rural and encompasses towns such as Ermelo, Volksrust, Piet Retief, Wakkerstroom, Bethal, Secunda and Standerton.

Sibanyoni was suspended from work on August 12, a day after Mpumalanga police arrested him on corruption charges.

“The decision on whether to charge Sibanyoni or not will come out of the investigation report, which will be forwarded to the relevant senior authority in the department as soon as investigations are completed,” Mohoebi said.

“This is the second case (of this nature) we know of. In the first one, the official was suspended and a disciplinary process was followed, which led to the dismissal of the official from public service,” he added.

Sibanyoni is set to appear in the Piet Retief magistrate’s court on September 2.

He is out on R5 000 bail after his first appearance on August 11.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi said that Sibanyoni allegedly accepted bribes from 12 emerging farmers.

“Some of these farms were under land claims. The problem may be bigger and we are urging all people involved in this illicit act to come forward. In the meantime, all lease applications processed by Sibanyoni are under scrutiny,” Hlathi said.

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