Public Protector asked to probe distribution of Free State drought aid

(iStock)
(iStock)

Bloemfontein - The DA has asked the Public Protector to investigate the distribution of drought aid in the Free State, following allegations of corruption.

Money for aid and fodder which was distributed to help farmers affected by the crippling drought apparently ended up in the pockets of people with powerful friends, the DA's Roy Jankielsohn has said.

In 2015, the Free State received R45m in drought aid meant for emerging farmers, Netwerk24 reported.

Agents were paid to sign deals with suppliers, who would then deliver the fodder.

"They basically were paid to make a few phone calls," said Jankielsohn, a member of the Free State legislature.  

Some agents apparently claimed up to 30% from the money meant for fodder.  

'Fodder exchanged for cattle'

The DA said the department of agriculture could have done the work itself, but instead agents were appointed to milk the system. The agents had previously received a 10% commission.

Jankielsohn also accused the department of giving drought aid to people who didn't qualify for it.

"The DA has proof of one such case in which a person who'd received fodder tried to sell it to commercial farmers or exchange it for cattle. This has already been brought to the Public Protector's attention."  

He said it was an indictment on the Free State government that much-needed drought aid, which was supposed to help farmers who had been hardest hit, was being abused to enrich a few. It couldn't have been done without the co-operation of officials who had to determine which farmers needed the help most, he said.

Agriculture spokesperson Zimasa Mbewu said the department would respond to the claims in full on Thursday. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3700 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2523 votes
No, I don't think they need it
37% - 3591 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.03
(+0.20)
ZAR/GBP
20.98
(+0.06)
ZAR/EUR
18.09
(+0.44)
ZAR/AUD
11.71
(-0.15)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(+0.67)
Gold
1718.47
(+0.47)
Silver
26.11
(+0.44)
Platinum
1169.50
(+1.29)
Brent Crude
63.94
(+2.19)
Palladium
2364.49
(+1.16)
All Share
67928.12
(-0.58)
Top 40
62433.52
(-0.68)
Financial 15
12710.06
(+1.10)
Industrial 25
88156.88
(-1.70)
Resource 10
69338.54
(+0.16)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo