Man in court for alleged Mpumalanga housing scam

Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Mbombela - A man allegedly tried to defraud a Mpumalanga businessman in a housing scam, without realising he was dealing with an MEC’s brother.

Lucas Matthys Neetling, 58, was granted R5 000 bail when he appeared in the Bronkhorstspruit District Court last week on Thursday on charges of fraud and corruption, Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Mokgotodi said. His case was postponed to March 9.

He allegedly tried to con an Emalahleni businessman out of R100 000 by pretending to be a close friend of Mpumalanga’s MECs for human settlements and for community safety and security.

Little did he know that the businessman was the brother of Community Safety MEC Speedy Mashilo.

The Mpumalanga Hawks were notified and a sting operation was conducted. Neetling was arrested last week on Tuesday.

“The suspect was found to be jobless and going around pretending to be a director of an architectural company and consultancy services, but it is all propaganda,” Mokgotodi said.

Up-front payments

He claimed to have access to tenders for the construction of RDP houses and bridges.

Neetling, through the company, Bondeiro Business Development Consortium (BBDC), had allegedly been defrauding contractors by claiming to have received tenders to deliver massive projects around the country.

"The alleged scams were brought to our attention when a certain contractor was targeted by the bogus consortium to be given 100 housing units to build from the bigger number of 10 000 houses," Mashilo said.

Contractors were allegedly given tenders to upgrade cemeteries for R3m and to build a sports stadium worth R30m in Hammanskraal, in the Moretele municipality.

Other contracts included for building 10 000 houses in Mpumalanga for R166 800 each, for three schools in North West at R100m, and construction of a sports centre in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, for R480m.

Typically, the BBDC allegedly asked for an up-front payment of R100 000, followed by R6 000 per house as commission.

Mashilo said the company used MEC's names as contact persons to legitimise their claims.

“We appeal to all service providers [contractors] to be vigilant when it comes to bogus tenders,” he said.

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