Three agriculture officials suspended over R51m scam

THE head of the agriculture department in Limpopo and two officials implicated in the suspected R51 million fraud have been suspended.

Bigman Maloa and two senior managers were allegedly linked to a controversial transaction that saw the department depositing a R6million pension payout in to private accounts in May and July this year.

Maloa is also accused of authorising the awarding of a R41million irrigation contract to a departmental employee, Morotha Dipela.

Dipela was employed as an irrigation manager and has since resigned.

Maloa was summoned to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, where he failed to explain why he called off a police investigation into the transfer of money into a private account.

He instead told Scopa that it was not necessary since the money was returned to the department's account.

After the discovery police were told not to continue with the investigations, something that angered MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba and Scopa since Maloa was seen to be covering up fraudulent activities.

Department spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele said Maloa was yesterday suspended with MJ Masehla and KP Mbedzi in finance.