GOVERNMENT is showing signs of fighting back against fraudsters and corrupt officials.

After Sowetan reported yesterday that three officials in Mpumalanga squandered R100million, government has acted swiftly to reclaim the money and act against the guilty parties.

This is unusual, especially in Mpumalanga where state funds have been misappropriated with regularity.

For starters, the Mpumalanga provincial government has laid fraud charges against three companies regarding R31million of the R100million.

The companies - Kgopolang Business Enterprises, Eden Moon Trading and SS Ndlovu - allegedly claimed money for deliveries not made and claimed money based on forged signatures.

The companies were part of nine service providers that were appointed by the provincial department of agriculture to distribute fodder to farmers in 2006 after veld fires ravaged many parts of the province.

The fire affected many farmers, forcing the department to set aside R31million in drought relief.

Now four years later, the state has uncovered that nine of the service providers appointed for fodder distribution committed serious fraud.

This is according to a report by Grant Thornton Business Risk Services, a company engaged by agriculture head of department, Nelisiwe Sithole, to conduct a performance audit on the overall management of supply and fodder delivery under drought relief.

Sithole confirmed yesterday that she has laid charges against suspected parties.

Investigators found that Eden Moon converted kilograms into tons on the delivery notes attached to all payments.

The converted tons claimed by this service provider were found to be 298,15 tons in excess of what should have been claimed for.

The total costs of these excess tons, at Eden Moon's rate of R1750 per ton, amounted to R521762,50.

As per contracts signed by all service providers, one ton consists of 50 bales of 20kg each.

The investigators have recommended that the R521762,50 paid to Eden Moon be recovered from the company and that officials who approved the payment be charged.

It was also discovered that the three service providers were paid R17million for work not done.

Kgopolang Business Enterprise was paid more than R9million extra after it allegedly delivered more delivery notes than the products.

SS Ndlovu was paid nearly R3million for delivering fodder in Nokaneng village but investigators have established that the company submitted false delivery notes.