War vets fight over land deal

2011-04-16 16:53

A multimillion-rand land reform empowerment deal meant to ­benefit hundreds of previously ­disadvantaged people, including Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) ­veterans, faces collapse after two members of its trust sold it off, allegedly in secret.

Now 498 Vukuzenzele Trust members are in court fighting the sale of its sawmills, timber, buildings and vehicles on 13 000 hectares of land across Nelspruit and White River to three private companies.

The South Gauteng High Court, which was approached by the group to have the sale declared null and void, has since ­ordered an ­investigation into the deal.

At the centre of the sale are two MK veterans, Moriti Ngale and Mmaruseng Moyo.

According to court documents, the two men allegedly sold the ­assets for R82 million without ­permission and pocketed R5?million.

In addition, they allegedly ­acquired 201 hectares of the land for themselves for R4?000 a ­hectare, while the land was worth about R20 000 a hectare.

Ngale, Moyo, another 38 MK Military Veteran Association members and 360 people across Mpumalanga bought the ­properties for R50.4?million in 2002.

The deal was financed with grants from the Department of ­Rural Development and Land ­Reform and a loan of R26?million from the Land Bank.

However, beneficiaries say they have not received any ­dividends.

Ngale and Moyo were the only ­directors of Vukuzenzele’s nine companies.

City Press emailed questions to both Ngale and Moyo at Ngale’s address but they would not comment.

Ngale said he had sent the questions to his attorney Wiekus du Toit to reply to but Du Toit said he could not answer any questions and would get back to City Press in the coming week.

Court documents state that the sale was concluded in July last year between Ngale, Moyo and Ducas Props Four, Kyloe Estate (Pty) Ltd and Paharpur Natural Resources (Pty) Ltd.

The sale went through in ­October last year, and the two men paid themselves R2.5?million each.

An amount of R3.6?million was then paid to only 72 of the remaining beneficiaries at R50 000 each.

In an affidavit, beneficiary Joseph Phetla said: “At no time had the trustees seen any audited ­financial reports of the trust or its subsidiary companies.

“I was the treasurer and the only time I dealt with money was when I made petty-cash requisitions to pay for transport, ­accommodation and catering for trustee meetings,” he added.

In November last year, the ­beneficiaries obtained an order from the South Gauteng High Court that prohibited Ngale and Moyo from withdrawing or transferring ­funds from the companies’ bank ­accounts and they were removed as trustees.

The court also appointed ­accountant Willem Steinberg as a Vukuzenzele trustee to get all the companies’ books, and to ­investigate and recover money on behalf of the beneficiaries.

“The court said I must get all the books, investigate and recover what we can and pay beneficiaries.

It is a slow process since it involves attorneys and the courts,” ­Steinberg said.

In his interim report, dated ­January 10, Steinberg noted that Ngale and Moyo tried to claim R7.8?million in management fees but they failed to provide ­documentary proof that they were entitled to the money.

Steinberg’s report also stated that none of Vukuzenzele’s ­companies had made a profit or paid taxes.

The report indicated that a number of questionable transactions took place around the sale of Vukuzenzele’s properties.

The matter will return to court once Steinberg has concluded his investigation.

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