A PROPERTY developer in Pretoria has been charged with fraud and illegally selling unregistered stands.
Ronald Letswalo of Biz Hub Properties owns a 90ha portion of the farm Hartebees, next to Moloto village on the Moloto road outside Cullinan, which he has subdivided into about 2000 sites.
The rest of the farm has been developed into the Moloto Big Tree Mall.
Letswalo and his agent, Prince Nkuna, have been selling stands on the 90ha portion since the beginning of this month.
Desperate home-seekers have been queuing outside office No2 at Big Tree Mall after receiving fliers and SMSes announcing the sales. The 320m2 stands are selling for R1500, R2500 and R3000, depending on their location.
About 40percent of the sites have already been sold, including almost all the cheaper stands, Nkuna said yesterday.
Buyers were given receipts bearing the name of a taxi association and were instructed to put up shacks immediately and to start building proper structures within eight months.
Things started falling apart when mayor Annah Dikgoro of Nokeng Tsa Taemane received information about the "illegal sales of stands in our municipal area".
"I visited the sales office at Big Tree Mall on Tuesday and found long queues of desperate people waiting to purchase stands. I pretended to be a buyer and I promised to come back the next day to make my payment."
Instead, she sent municipal manager Lonwabo Ngudlwa and communications manager Phalane Motale to tell Letswalo his operation was illegal and to instruct him to stop selling the land.
Dikgoro said the owners had lied to buyers by telling them the council would take care of bulk services infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and sewerage.
"We only found out about (the sales) this week. My fear was that the man was going to disappear with the poor people's money after he had sold all the stands."
Letswalo denied doing anything wrong.
"This is not a scam. We bought the land and we are only selling the place to people."
He said the property's previous owner had applied for it to be rezoned and that it was approved by the previous municipal manager.
"If there was something wrong with what I was doing I would not have bought it in the first place.
"I met council officials yesterday (Wednesday) and told them I am willing to cooperate with them."
He said the council was providing services to an informal settlement at Wagendrift farm, about 4km up the Moloto road.
"The council is servicing that illegal settlement because the owner is white and paid something to officials. I am doing something better than what he did and I am told I am wrong simply because I have not paid [bribes] and also because I am black."
Ngudlwa disputed his claims and said the municipality owned the farm Wagendrift
"It was purchased from its previous owner to accommodate families that were evicted from neighbouring farms," he said.
Ngudlwa said the area would soon be developed into a proper township. Hartebees owner will have had to guarantee bulk service to get approval for his development, he said.
The previous owner's application for the property to be rezoned had been rejected because of the lack of bulk services in the area, he said.
Ngudlwa said charges of fraud and illegal sale of land were laid with the police in Cullinan because the stands had not been registered with the surveyor-general.