Weed out the crooks

THE Hawks have to be congratulated for cracking one of the lucrative scams run by a number of Land Bank officials.

One official in Limpopo was allegedly so arrogant he signed on his own farmworkers to defraud a scheme meant to help small farmers.

He seemed to think he was immune from prosecution while he burdened illiterate rural workers with huge loans they never applied for.

He operated his scam while other officials gave themselves huge sums of taxpayers' money. The Land Bank was infested from top to bottom by crooks.

While some toiled to improve farming and land acquisition another group engaged in theft and fraud to enrich themselves.

This begs the question why these officials were not caught sooner. It seems the accounting officers failed to carry out the duties they were hired to do.

The thieves' den was discovered when too many projects went wrong and the bank could not account for money lost in dubious ways.

It is surprising that the scams went unreported. Perhaps it is because South Africa punishes whistle-blowers and protects wrongdoers.

We hope the new CEO is not prevented from sweeping out the thieves who stole from the poor to feather their own nests.

The next step is for the justice system to mete out suitable sentences that will deter others who see nothing wrong with pilfering taxpayers' money for their own personal gain and pleasure.

We avidly await the Hawks' other investigations into those who used money meant for the poor to build golf estates.