Coast land claim fraud

2011-09-28 00:00

THE Department of Rural Development and Land Reform said the land restitution process in the Gamalakhe area in the South Coast is fraught with fraud and corruption.

The department said it has established that criminals were charging community members money to put them on the land claimants list.

Officials from the department said these were not legitimate claimants and they have since opened a fraud case with the police.

A statement released by Nokuthokoza Ndlela of the department said criminals were taking advantage of the loopholes in their systems for their own financial gain, with the Regional Restitution office in KwaZulu-Natal being the hardest hit .

It has learned that community members were paying between R200 to R1 000 per person to have their names on the list of claimants.

It is believed that about 8 600 people have paid this money, it said.

Recently, a large group of community members from the area descended on the commission’s Pietermaritzburg head offices demanding a timetable for the settlement of their claims. However, the officials demurred, saying that the claims have been largely settled.

“The department has been informed that an estimated 8 600 people have paid money to these criminals ranging from R200 to R1 000 per person. A sum estimated to be R97 000 and a list of people alleged to have paid the syndicates were confiscated from a house at Gamalakhe belonging to one of the syndicates.”

The Regional Restitution office in KwaZulu-Natal said it had noted that this scam is not only affecting financial compensation claims as it was previously reported, but some of the land restoration claims that have not been finalised are being targeted by this syndicate.

“The department is appealing to communities to refrain from paying money to people who claim to be representing the department because this might perpetuate the scam,” it said.

thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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