Scorpions act on housing fraud

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

The Scorpions are investigating more than 30000 civil servants for fraudulently receiving housing benefits.

A team of a special investigations unit headed by Willie Hofmeyer, including Scorpions and housing officials, has identified 31259 bureaucrats believed to be involved in the massive housing scam.

The team examined a list of 53555 government workers whose names appear in a database of subsidised housing and found that 31259 did not qualify.

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu asked the Scorpions to step in after her department identified a range of corrupt practices that were affecting the provision of low-cost houses.

President Thabo Mbeki mandated the Scorpions to investigate the loss of state funds, the mismanagement or misuse of the government's low-cost housing schemes, and the conduct of officials administering RDP houses.

The investigators were also instructed to look at the activities of municipal councillors.

The Scorpions say they have only begun their drive to root out corruption in housing.

The investigators have set up offices in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Limpopo as bases for the probe. Cases are already being referred to courts across the country.

Attorneys, corrupt officials in the housing department, builders and members of the public are being prosecuted in the first wave of cases.

In Gauteng a developer was forced to repay R4,7million after he failed to deliver on his contract, another developer was ordered to repay R1million, and a third had to return more than R1,2million.

In the Western Cape a developer received a suspended sentence of three years and was ordered to repay R292236.

In KwaZulu-Natal a lawyer was charged with the theft of housing subsidies and another faces charges of diverting R4,7million in housing subsidies.

Sowetan recently exposed widespread corruption at Winnie Mandela informal settlement in Tembisa, in which officials allocated the same RDP houses to two or more beneficiaries.