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THE LiMPOPO department of agriculture allegedly tried to stop the police from investigating how R6million belonging to taxpayers was illegally transferred to a private bank account.
It is alleged that the move to investigate the transaction was shot down by the head of the department.
But the police said they were going to investigate the matter with or without the department's approval. The money allegedly lay in a private account for two months until the bank ordered an investigation.
The money was allegedly approved by the finance section of the department of agriculture and deposited into the private account.
The money was supposed to be deposited into the Government Employees Pension Fund account but somehow ended up in the private bank account.
Sources in the department told Sowetan that the discovery of the illegal transfer was made by the bank's intelligence unit, which immediately called for the transaction to be investigated.
The department was informed and then ordered to open a case with the police when fraud was allegedly suspected.
It is not yet clear which department of agriculture officials had authorised the money.
Sources in the department have alleged that the matter fuelled tensions between Maloa and agriculture MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.
Letsatsi-Duba was allegedly unhappy about the matter and wanted to handle it herself.
It is alleged that the top official told his subordinates that it was no longer important for the police to investigate the matter after the money was returned to the department.
"The MEC is concerned about the manner in which the matter was handled," said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said it was strange that the department tried to stop an investigation into a transaction involving such a huge amount of money.
"There's something wrong about that transaction. Why would they try to prevent an investigation if there was no foul play?" the source asked.
Fraud and crime experts suspect that the money might have been deposited deliberately because such activities were normally discovered by banks.
But department spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele denied that there had been an attempt to stop the investigation. Makhuvele said the department had initially opened a case of fraud with the Polokwane police but it was subsequently withdrawn. He said they had now launched an internal investigation.
"We are not sure what happened here. Perhaps it was just an error or maybe was done deliberately as a way of defrauding the department.
"We will investigate," Makhuvele said.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Ronel Otto said they were continuing with investigations into the matter.