Malema ‘stole my land’

2012-01-07 19:08

The police are investigating new charges of corruption, fraud and theft against Julius Malema – this time relating to the “sale” of a plot in 2007.

A former “friend” of Malema, businessman Matane Mphahlele, has now turned against the beleaguered ANC Youth League leader, accusing him of stealing a prime piece of land in Polokwane’s Ster Park suburb.

Mphahlele claims Malema, with the help of his lawyer and municipal officials, illegally transferred the plot to his (Malema’s) name and subsequently resold it, pocketing a cool 300% profit.

On Thursday last week, Mphahlele opened a criminal case against Malema, lawyer Maboku Mangena, Limpopo housing department head Clifford Motsepe and senior municipal officials at the Polokwane police office.

Police spokesperson Lesiba Ramoshaba confirmed that case number 1645/12/2011 was handed to the police’s commercial crimes unit to investigate.

Malema’s finances are currently the subject of another criminal probe by the Hawks after City Press revealed the existence of Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust in July last year.

Now Malema is fighting claims by Mphahlele that he “grabbed” a plot that was allocated by the Polokwane Municipality to him in 2006.

Mphahlele said he was allocated land by the municipality on a first-come-first-serve basis in Ster Park, also known as “Tender Park”.

In his police statement, Mphahlele says that he was called to the office of PMK Tladi and Associates, attorneys in Polokwane, on June 28 2006 to sign a power of attorney for the sale to be registered.

Malema, Motsepe and a senior municipal officer were also present at the office when he signed the document, Mphahlele told City Press this week.

Mangena, a lawyer who had since left PMK Tladi, allegedly told Mphahlele he was the conveyancer.

Mphahlele claims he heard nothing from his lawyer or the municipality after signing the power of attorney in 2006.

Only in September last year, after receiving a call from a journalist who asked him about the “sale” of the plot to Malema, did Mphahlele make fresh enquiries.

Documents in a municipal file show that the property was registered in Mphahlele’s name on April 4 2007, but on the same day it was “purportedly transferred” to Malema for the same purchase amount – R222 300.

Deeds office records confirm that the property was trans-ferred to Malema on the same day for the same amount. The next month, on May 29 2007, Malema sold the piece of land to Pazimo Trading Projects, a closed corporation belonging to businessman Carl Chabane, for R680 000 – an increase of more than 300% on the purchase price.

Mphahlele admits that he never paid a cent for the land, but claims under oath he never transferred the property to Malema or agreed for his lawyers to sell the plot.

He accuses his lawyer, Mangena, of not informing him that the property had been transferred into his name and of failing to facilitate the payment of the purchase price.

Malema didn’t respond to questions this week, but his version of events is captured in author Fiona Forde’s book, An Inconvenient Youth.

Mphahlele, who he described as a friend, didn’t have money to continue the deal, Malema told Forde.

“And I said give it to me and he agreed. I went to the municipality and said ‘I’m going to pay the land for Matane, but it must be a double transfer’.

They said, ‘No, this is his site. And it must be like he is paying for the site and then he can legally transfer it to me’.”

Malema didn’t explain why, if Mphahlele ran out of funds, the land didn’t go back to the municipality and was offered to the next person on the waiting list.

At the time he was provincial secretary of the ANCYL and a rising star in the ruling party.

Malema told Forde he took out a loan from Standard Bank to buy the plot, but wouldn’t say how much profit he made by selling the land.

He did tell her that he used the profit to put down a deposit on a R1 million house in Flora Park, Polokwane.Mphahlele denied not having money to pay for the stand and said he brought the charges “because it is in the public interest with all the corruption going on in government”.

Mphahlele was embroiled in a scandal in 2010 when it was reported he “hijacked” a company that benefited from the Gautrain contract.

He is currently suing Trade Minister Rob Davies, whose department made the claims, for defamation.

They said:
» Questions were sent to Floyd Shivambu, Julius Malema’s spokesperson, but he did not respond.
» Clifford Motsepe, who is also an SABC board member, told City Press he “doesn’t need these questions – continue to dream”.
» Lawyer Maboku Mangena said he had not been informed by the police of the charges, but was “surprised” to learn of them. “I have not seen (Mphahlele’s) statement. I will comment on it at an appropriate time and forum once it has been made available to me,” he said.
» Businessman Carl Chabane, who bought the plot from Malema, responded with shock when told the land was “sold” to Malema for R222 300, a month before his closed corporation bought it for R680 000. “What! I had no idea (the plot’s price increased by 300%). This is the first time I’m hearing Mr Malema was the owner of the stand,” he said.

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