A MEMBER of the Ward 22 (KwaMachibisa) committee has been fingered by certain community members for allegedly illegally selling them land there.The plots are said to have cost between R10 000 and R20 000.According to a source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, the illegal selling of sites has been going on for years.“The previous councillor [Patrick Jaca] was against all of this, which is why he was ousted. People who sell land illegally are close to the current councillor [Xolani Ngongoma]. Jaca was removed and the current councillor was voted in because they wanted to continue doing this,” the source claims.The source further claims that in another area near the lay centre in KwaMachibisa an individual built property on a community sports field and when the individual was questioned who had granted them permission to build on that land, they responded by saying the current councillor, Xolani Ngongoma, had done so.In one instance, the accused ward committee member allegedly sold land for R20 000, however, the rightful owners of the land intervened before the buyer could start building on it.The rightful land owners said they have since taken legal action to have the matter resolved and so declined to comment when contacted by Echo.The person who claims to have bought the land for R20 000, who also asked for anonymity, said she paid the accused in full in two instalments, one as an electronic transfer and the other in cash.“This was in 2013, and once I had paid the money she [the ward committee member] told me I should wait for the then councillor or people who worked with him to officially hand over the site to me before I could build on the land.“Then she kept telling me that the councillor is too busy to attend to the matter of the official handover of the site.” She said as proof a letter stating the details of the agreement about the site was written and signed by her, her husband, and the ward committee member and the letter had the previous councillor’s stamp and a stamp from the SAPS on it. The Echo has seen a copy of this letter.She said she eventually grew tired of waiting and asked the ward committee member to refund her money, but that became a problem until she sought legal advice to recover it.She said on November 2, 2016, the matter was at the small claims court but the ward committee member was a no-show.Another person, who also asked to remain anonymous, said they bought land from the same ward committee member in KwaMachibisa for R10 000.The source said this transaction took place in February and up until now she has paid R7 000, which she paid in three cash instalments to the ward committee member.“But she told me I could start building on the land in June and soon after the month of June I did. “There are two other women I know who also bought sites from her,” the source said.The source added that once the transaction had been finalised no mention of a title deed or of services such as water and electricity was made.The Echo contacted the said ward committee member about the allegations, but she denied them saying they are nothing but a political ploy to discredit the current ward committee. She denied any knowledge of the letter containing her initials, identity number and signature, drafted as an agreement between her and the buyer of a site for R20 000, calling it “fraud”. Last week in an article titled “Houses built in non-residential area”, Echo reported that one individual currently building a house in the said area said they had bought the land from the area ward committee member. However, it could not be established whether it is the same individual as referred to in last week’s article.Responding to a media inquiry about last week’s report, Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality’s security anti-land invasion task team will investigate the allegation, report any material findings to the police and allow the law to take its course.Responding to a question about what would happen to people, as reported in last week’s article should the land be found it has not been zoned for residential use, Mafumbatha said: “If the ward councillor proposes a human settlements project and the land is suitable for human settlements development, we will request council’s approval of a housing project and rezoning of the land.”She added that if this does not suffice then the council could decide to institute legal action against the illegal occupiers, which may lead to evictions.“The said area is a wetland and the area is also a flood plain.“The Msunduzi EMF identified the site to have a high flooding potential, high wetland constraints, high water quality constraints and a high air quality constraints.”She said in principle the area should be protected since it is a wetland and this must be done in accordance with the approved Municipal Integrated Environmental Management Policy and Strategic Environmental Assessment.“[The municipality] does not support the cumulative loss of wetlands, biodiversity and public open space areas. “Wetlands should be protected at all times,” Mafumbatha said.