Speaking of the case against the 11, Hawks spokesperson Lt-Col Philani Nkwalase said in a statement: “It is alleged that during February 2012 a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa municipality that allegedly bought a Rietspruit farm in Ermelo worth R11m yet sold for about R36.4m in 2011 to develop a township, while the municipality owned a farm that could have been used for the same purpose.”
Nkwalase said a multi-agency investigation, which included the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), conducted an investigation.
According to Nkwalase, a whistleblower alerted investigators to two other deals involving two farms:
- a 70ha Malelane farm worth R44m that was allegedly sold to the municipality for R50m in 2011; and
- a 74.2ha property in Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16m which was apparently sold for R37.5m.
“All these three farms' actual combined value was about R70m, but through alleged collusion by the arrested suspects the Mpumalanga human settlements department suffered a total loss of just under R124m,” Nkwalase said.
According to the Hawks, the money was channelled through five companies.
“An intricate paper trail was created including applications by the municipalities, valuation reports and internal correspondence to justify the deals,” Nkwalase said.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Nelspruit magistrate's court on Wednesday.