Lenasia housing fraud: Lay charges, say police

2012-11-09 21:02
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Lenasia protests

Protests broke out in Lenasia, Johannesburg, after 37 houses were bulldozed. See the pictures.

Johannesburg - Lenasia residents whose houses were being demolished should lay charges if they had evidence of corruption, police said on Friday.

"If there are people who feel there are allegations of corruption or crime committed, [it] is for them to come... and lay charges," Warrant Officer Kay Makhubele said.

"As police we'll make sure that all those allegations are investigated, and if some of the people are found involved in that corruption... what we are going to do is to arrest them."

On Friday, the housing department in Gauteng demolished 14 houses in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg. Thirty-seven were destroyed on Thursday.

The department said it had identified 113 houses in the area which it said were illegally built on land intended for government houses.

Spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa said: "We are done for today [Friday] we would let you [media] know when we go back again. We will have to make arrangements with police first.

"Investigations by the department's anti-fraud and corruption unit revealed that fraudsters sold several stands [for amounts] ranging from R2 500 to R95 000, and issued buyers with fraudulent deeds of sale which bore the department's official logo."

Neighbours expressed anger over the evictions.

"Why can't the government give these people monetary penalties if they build illegally on the government land?" said Patricia Mangena.

Earlier, police had to drag a woman holding her child screaming out of her house, after it had been identified as one built illegally and therefore earmarked to be demolished.

At another house, bulldozers broke the wall of the yard in the owner's absence.

When she arrived, she shouted: "Who broke my wall? They are going to [re]build it, by fire, by force."

She continued: "I have documents for this house. I stayed here for more than 10 years. This house was on auction."

Other residents shouted: "This woman has a document for this house. This house is not part of corruption."

In response, Motlhaolwa said: "They know nothing."

Con artists

As police and bulldozers moved through the area, some residents said their houses were on the list to be demolished, but said they were not given notice as the housing department claimed.

Motlhaolwa said they were given notices for a period of over a year.

"We [have] even given them a chance to demolish the houses built illegally themselves, so that they can even pack their bricks, their windows, and doors."

He said they should also remove their furniture.

"Then we will come with the Red Ants if that is not happening," he said, referring to a notorious eviction company whose employees wear red overalls.

Sam Mfupa, 34, whose house was also on the list, said so far he had spent about R250 000 to build his house.

"We can't be victims of con artists from the housing department. The government must arrest these people who sold us this land," he said.

Motlhaolwa said residents were told not to build houses on the land in 2006 and that a court order was obtained to stop them from building, but a syndicate had convinced them otherwise.

He said three members of the syndicate were arrested for fraud in 2009 and had since been jailed.

"They forged the [head of department's] signature and used [the] department's letterhead," he said.

However, residents said that number of people who were serving a jail term was not enough.

"There are many people involved here, government officials are the ones who sold us this land. They [government] must deal with their people, not us," said Mfupa.

No injuries have been reported.

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