Lenasia land fraudster gets house arrest

2014-12-18 12:20

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Johannesburg - Former City of Johannesburg employee Sifiso Handsome Litau was handed a five-year sentence on Thursday for fraud, wholly suspended for five years, for illegally selling state land in Lenasia.

But the father of six, who was sentenced in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, would instead spend the next three years under house arrest.

Magistrate Theunis Carstens said Litau would only be allowed to leave his house for work, church, doctor's appointments, and community service projects.

Delivering his sentence, Carstens said Litau needed to dedicate 16 hours every month to cleaning cars belonging to the Jabulani police and fire station, for the next three years.

‘Driven by greed’

He was ordered to attend life skills classes and undergo individual therapy.

Litau took R45 000 from three women he sold the land to.

Carstens said Litau took advantage of people who were desperate for land. He labelled him "opportunistic" because he already had an income of around R40 000 a month.

"His conduct was driven by greed, not need," said Carstens.

He said the issue of land had been behind many disputes, and the magistrate made reference to the Economic Freedom Fighter's encouragement of "land grabs".

"To add insult to injury, there's also a risk that his (Litau's) victims' houses may be demolished," said Carstens.

"He offended his victims by saying they had fabricated their evidence."

Litau, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, said he was willing to pay back his victims.

He would pay R1 000 a month to a woman he defrauded of R20 000, R1 000 a month to another he defrauded of R13 000, and R900 a month to the third woman he defrauded of R12 000.

Reasons for house arrest

He would start paying them at the end of January.

The court heard that Litau had resigned from his post during internal disciplinary proceedings, where the three people who had bought land from him gave evidence against him.

In July he was found guilty of illegally selling land in Lenasia Extension 13.

Since his resignation in September 2013, he has started a pest control business which brings him a monthly income of R80 000.

Carstens had taken a number of factors into consideration to reach his verdict. Amongst those was that Litau was taking care of four minor children.

Had Litau been handed a prison sentence, the children would suffer emotionally and most likely be a burden on the state, said Carstens.

Litau provided financial support to his mother, who lived in KwaZulu-Natal, and his father in Soweto.

Carstens said justice could be achieved through correctional supervision.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  fraud

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