Civil servants charged in PMB for housing fraud

2008-04-23 00:00

THIRTY-FOUR Pietermaritzburg civil servants will appear in court this week for defrauding the government’s low-cost housing scheme — the highest number so far to be arrested in one area.

The city suspects are among 3 800 arrested countrywide. In total, 31 000 civil servants are being investigated for housing fraud.

The Special Investigations Unit started to investigate the low-cost housing fraud last year, after the Auditor-General’s report picked up on irregularities.

According to the National Housing Department, 443 people have confessed and promised to pay back money totalling R9,3 million. About R1 million has been paid back so far.

Department spokesman Xolani Xundu, said, so far, Pietermaritzburg has had the most people charged.

“But we are yet to make breakdowns by city. We will soon visit Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg,” he said.

Xundu said the government employees include school teachers, principals, police officers and nurses, who earn from R3 000 to R10 000 per month.

“They would falsify information about their occupation and income. They would either rent the houses out or use them as spaza shops or extend them into better homes for themselves.

“Remember that when this low-cost housing started, the system was not as tight as it is now. Our system can now pick up an applicant’s full details and automatically catch him if he doesn’t qualify,” said Xundu.

Of the 31 000 currently being investigated, Gauteng has the highest number of public servants being probed at 9 235, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 6 755.

bhans@witness.co.za

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