KZN dept suspends seniors

2010-03-18 00:00

AN unconfirmed number of senior officials were suspended by the KZN Rural Development and Land Reform Department on Friday.

A source in the department told The Witness that two officials were suspended and another is planning to resign after they were allegedly involved in corrupt activities.

The source said the corruption relates to seven farms that the department bought in the Elandslaagte area in the uThukela District Municipal District.

According to the source, three labour tenant families had claimed two of the farms. The department then consolidated seven farms and set up a legal entity to take transfer of the farms.

However, another legal entity with the same name was set up, but with a different group of beneficiaries.

When the time came for the land to be transferred, the second legal entity was presented to the conveyancers, thus excluding the labour tenant claimants, who were subsequently threatened with eviction.

Although the suspensions were confirmed by the department, the allegations could not be confirmed for fear of compromising the investigations.

“We cannot give out any further details on the nature of the allegations as this might compromise the investigation,” department spokesman Sipho Dlamini said yesterday.

One of the suspended officials, whose name is withheld, declined to comment, saying her attorney will be in touch with The Witness for comment.

The director of the Association for Rural Advancement, John Ait­cheson, said beneficiaries of land reform have been making allegations of corruption for some time.

“These allegations implicate officials in the department, as well as other members of society, including estate agents, land owners and powerful businessmen in rural com­munities.

“Sadly this results in the sidelining of land reform policy objectives and the undue enrichment of people not entitled to it from state coffers.

“We therefore welcome the suspension of those alleged to have acted corruptly.”

Aitcheson said anyone who acts in his or her own interests against policies of the government should be held to account, and the government should take harsh action against such officials.

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