August 16, 2010

Millions recovered from corrupt officials

The National Audit Task Team appointed by the Department of Human Settlements has recovered R44 million and arrested 1.910 government officials who were illegally benefiting from housing subsidies. The recovered money has been ploughed back into the department for use in the human settlements grants.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said the Team, which was appointed by him in 2009 and which is headed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), had made excellent headway in cracking down on corrupt officials who have abused housing subsidies. "Now the focus is on housing syndicates - which are of increasing concern - and on dodgy contractors," the minister said, adding that 20 problematic housing projects worth R2 billion had been identified.

The SIU travelled to all nine provinces, identifying the top 10 dodgy contracts in each province, which was then narrowed down to the list of 20. A total of 10.246 housing projects were assessed by the investigators. "Their work is already bearing fruit. Already, a conveyancing attorney in KwaZulu-Natal has been charged with 142 counts of fraud and theft. Two criminal cases in respect of a contractor and engineer who defrauded the department of more than R10 million," the minister said. Investigations are also underway into syndicates that are selling and renting state-owned houses, primarily in Gauteng, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. The SIU has also been asked to investigate the National Home Builders' Registration Council, which provides out a quality control function to housing contractors.

"A number of complaints have come in recent months from members of the public, from Parliament and from political parties. These complaints have been forwarded to the SIU for investigation, and a report is expected." Sexwale said. Head of the SIU, Willie Hofmeyr said the unit would now focus largely on contractors who had failed to deliver.
"We hope, together with the department, to send a strong message - that people will be prosecuted where there has been wrong doing. We want to send this message out with the hope of cleaning up the system," Hofmeyr added. (Bua News)

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