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Investigating team clamps down on govt officials

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Investigating team clamps down on govt officials

by Bathandwa Mbola
23 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has identified over 31000 government officials who fraudulently received the state's low-cost houses meant for the poor.

Of these, 3 800 are already facing prosecution in the country's courts as investigations into their cases have been finalised, the Department of Housing said on Tuesday.

This revelation comes as government is spending over R2 billion to refinance the completion of unfinished RDP houses that were either abandoned or not built at all by unscrupulous developers.

The spectre of disqualified civil servants receiving RDP houses was first highlighted by the 2006 auditor-general's report which has prompted President Thabo Mbeki to issue a proclamation last year in April to begin the investigations.

Housing's Director-General, Itumeleng Kotsoane said fraudulent activities have taken place due to the failure of systems to detect and verify some of the applicant's details.

"Working with other agencies of government, the department has improved its monitoring and verification systems and is able to detect and prevent fraudulent application by verifying the applicant details with the South African Revenue Services, the Department of Home Affairs, Deeds Office and other institutions of government."

He said the department would continue to work with law enforcement agencies and other institutions of government and the private sector to prevent fraud, and where fraud is detected it would be dealt with harshly.

In this light, 443 public servants have since the proclamation signed an acknowledgement of debt with the SIU totaling R9.3 million.

Nearly R1 million of this amount has been paid back and people are allowed to repay the money, said department's spokesperson, Xolani Xundu.

A maximum period of 60 months is given for people to repay the money, if they fail to honour their commitment, their cases are then handed to the department for further action or to the state attorney, he said.

The SIU will on Wednesday and Thursday prosecute a total of 34 public servants in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal for fraudulently obtaining government subsidised houses.

Ten public servants will appear on Friday in Venterstad in the Eastern Cape for the same crime.

Gauteng has the highest number of public servants under investigation at 9 235; followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 6 755; Eastern Cape at 3 840.

The North West was recorded at 3 027; Limpopo at 2 461; Western Cape at 2 279; Mpumalanga at 1 780; Free State at 1 407; and Northern Cape at 475.

The SIU is an independent statutory body established by President Mbeki and the unit conducts investigations at his request.

It reports directly to the President and Parliament on the outcomes of the investigations and works together with government and other law enforcement agencies to fight corruption. - BuaNews

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