reprieve for ex-land affairs top official

A FORMER senior official in the department of land affairs will be able to spend Christmas with his family before knowing his fate on whether he will be convicted of corruption or not.

A FORMER senior official in the department of land affairs will be able to spend Christmas with his family before knowing his fate on whether he will be convicted of corruption or not.

Cyril Kabelo Chuene briefly appeared in the Nelspruit magistrate's court on Monday where his case was postponed to January 15 to allow him to get a new lawyer after his first lawyer withdrew from representing him.

His R5000 bail was extended.

Chuene allegedly solicited and received a R10000 bribe from a farmer after promising him that he would nullify a claim on his farm in Beestekraal near Hazyview.

Chuene was arrested on July 24 after police set a trap and arranged for the money to be paid to him.

The transaction took place at a Wimpy at the Hall and Sons petrol station near the Mbombela Stadium. But little did Chuene realise that he was under police surveillance.

Police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said Chuene's arrest was prompted by a number of complaints from prominent people who complained that there was a corrupt official at the department of land affairs in Nelspruit.

Hlathi said: "The complainant claimed that he was approached by the suspect, who solicited a R10000 bribe from him to nullify a claim on one of his farms.

"The complainant met the suspect twice to deliberate on the deal - once in the suspect's office and later at the Karino Hotel near Nelspruit."

Hlathi said the farmer phoned Chuene and told him that a man would contact him to arrange for the payment of the R10000 bribe as arranged.

Police put on petrol attendants' uniforms at the petrol station in order not to raise Chuene's suspicion while one officer pretended to be the farmer sent by Chuene's "cash cow" to pay him the R10000.

Police pounced on him during the transaction and he was locked up at the Nelspruit police station.

He was later given bail.

Chuene was again arrested by the provincial police organised crime unit after two women from Nelsville reported him for allegedly duping them into paying him so that their land claims could be fast-tracked.

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