Land official appears for fraud

Mbombela - A senior project co-ordinator of the Mpumalanga department of land affairs and his wife appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on charges of fraud on Monday.

Cyril Chuene, 32, and his wife, Sara Wagenaar, 27, pleaded not guilty.

They were arrested on July 21 last year for allegedly soliciting a R10 000 bribe from a couple to ensure that a land claim against their property went nowhere.

The couple from whom they allegedly demanded the money, Frank and Barbara Green, owns the farm Beestekraal near Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge.

"We were told by Chuene on July 1 last year that our farm was gazetted and had been claimed. He said it was now government property and he would kick us out if we did not cooperate.

"But after we told our attorney, he found that the farm was legally ours. We were later called by Chuene, who said we should meet with him at a Hazyview hotel to discuss the matter,” Barbara testified on Monday.

R10 000 for petrol

She told the court she and her husband went to meet with Chuene and Wagenaar at the hotel.

"Chuene said our farm was not viable and the property could cost less than R100 000. He said he would have it de-gazetted if we could pay him R10 000 upfront, which he indicated was for petrol.

"He said it should be deposited into his wife's bank account and she would call me the next day to give her bank account details," Barbara testified.

The next day, Wagenaar phoned and supplied the number of her account.

"I did not deposit the money but gave the information to my legal representative," Barbara said.

New attorneys needed

"We knew that the deal with Chuene was illegal. That is why we decided to forward the information to our legal representative, who gave it to cops," she testified.

During the proceedings, Chuene and Wagenaar's legal representative decided to recuse himself from the case.

"You are warned to appoint new attorneys and each of you must have your own separate attorney," Magistrate Andre Geldenhuis told them.

He warned the two accused to be ready for trial with their new lawyers on January 15, when the case will resume.
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