Big land sale scam un­cov­ered in KZN

12 hectares of prov­ince’s prop­erty ‘fraud­u­lently’ changed hands

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BER­NADETTE WOL­HUTER

THE KwaZulu-Na­tal Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works has un­cov­ered a mul­ti­mil­lion-rand scam in­volv­ing the al­leged fraud­u­lent sale of about 12hectares of pro­vin­cial-owned land in and around Dur­ban, and an en­su­ing crim­i­nal case could im­pli­cate lawyers in­volved.

Yes­ter­day, the depart­ment went to court to stop busi­ness­peo­ple and com­pa­nies, Curro Hold­ings, Nu­lane In­vest­ments and Blue Des­tiny Prop­erty In­vest­ment, and busi­ness­man Si­mon Dray­cott – that bought the land ap­par­ently un­aware of the al­leged scam, from de­vel­op­ing or re­selling it.

Curro, Nu­lane and Dray­cott were all legally rep­re­sented in court yes­ter­day, and the court or­ders asked for by the Pub­lic Works Depart­ment were granted with their con­sent.

The court granted the or­der against Blue Des­tiny Prop­erty In­vest­ment, who were not rep­re­sented in court.

In terms of the in­terim court or­ders granted, the com­pa­nies and busi­ness­peo­ple were in­ter­dicted from “dis­pos­ing of, sell­ing, alien­at­ing or en­cum­ber­ing” the prop­er­ties and/or “de­vel­op­ing or erect­ing any struc­ture that might ac­cede to the land or mak­ing any im­prove­ments on the land”, pend­ing the out­come of the depart­ment’s at­tempts to rec­tify the ti­tle deeds.

In an af­fi­davit be­fore the court, Pub­lic Works of­fi­cial Mir­riam Linda said a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way and that the scam could be the work of a syn­di­cate.

She did not dis­close the de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but said it could sug­gest “crim­i­nal con­duct on the part of, in­ter alia, per­sons who may or may not be con­veyancers in­volved in as­pects of the trans­fers of the prop­er­ties”.

Ten pro­vin­cial state prop­er­ties in Ash­ley, Pine­town and La Lu­cia were trans­ferred in Novem­ber 2015 and March this year, but the depart­ment be­came aware of this only in May.

This was af­ter the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity picked up on the use of al­legedly fraud­u­lent rates clear­ance cer­tifi­cates in the trans­fers.

Upon fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it emerged that three prop­er­ties had ul­ti­mately landed up with Curro.

An­other four were trans­ferred to Blue Des­tiny Prop­erty In­vest­ment, one with Nu­lane In­vest­ments and one with Dray­cott – all with­out autho­ri­sa­tion from the depart­ment.

Of the prop­er­ties which had landed up with Curro, Linda said that af­ter she dis­cov­ered they had been trans­ferred, she be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

She found that on March 8, the prop­er­ties were trans­ferred from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to a woman iden­ti­fied as a busi­nessper­son.

On that day, they were in turn trans­ferred from her, to Nu­lane, and from Nu­lane to Curro.

“Each of the pow­ers of at­tor­ney to rep­re­sent the prov­ince in dis­pos­ing of the prop­er­ties was signed by (a for­mer gov­ern­ment em­ployee), al­legedly in her ca­pac­ity as the au­tho­rised rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the (depart­ment) and the pre­mier,” Linda said.

But the ex-gov­ern­ment em­ployee did not have the au­thor­ity. The cases were post­poned to next month.

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