News24

Jhb acts on land theft

2010-05-13 20:40

Johannesburg - All land acquired fraudulently from the City of Johannesburg will be returned to the city, Mayor Amos Masondo said on Thursday.

He said: "I want to assure Johannesburg residents that all land acquired fraudulently by third parties will be returned back to the city and that all relevant security agencies will be involved in this process," he said in a statement.

The city had found that council properties had been transferred at an abnormally fast pace and, in some cases, overnight. It currently took up to three months to transfer properties via the legal route.

He said the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC), a business unit managing the city's property portfolio, recently confirmed that 33 parcels of land, which included areas zoned as public open space and road reserves, had been fraudulently transferred from the city's asset register and sold to third parties.

A process had to be followed before the municipality could dispose property. This included consultation with the ward councillor and affected community.

"In the case of the 33 properties, the process was not followed and the failure to adhere to this process makes any of those property transactions invalid."

In addition all documentation presented to authorities as "proof of transfer" had signs of forgery and fraud. Investigations into these transactions were continuing.

Parties involved in the purchase of this land had proposed settlement deals, which the city had rejected.

"In the past months, the city started a legal process of charging other fraudsters who have also attempted to sell land illegally (by) purporting to be agents of the city... one of the fraudsters is currently in jail and this has given the city confidence that if the law is allowed to take its course, these illegal activities can be effectively stopped."