corrupt housing officials nabbed

The department has been able to reconcile R57-million of R500-million allegedly involved in the scam

The Free State provincial government has dismissed three junior officials and cases of five senior managers are still pending as part of a nationwide crackdown which has seen the arrest and conviction of more than 2 200 corrupt housing officials.

The minister of human settlements, Connie September, stated this in a written parliamentary reply to a question in that regard by Inkatha Freedom party lawmaker, Petros Sithole, last week. September said personnel files of 1 725 of the 2 236 people arrested or convicted had been handed over to provinces in preparation for disciplinary action.

“Investigations into housing contracts, including shoddy workmanship, are multi-year projects and the determination of how much money was lost could only be made once they had been completed,” said September.

In August 2012, the department of human settlements in the Free State revealed the names of six officials who were facing disciplinary action for their alleged involvement in a multi-million housing scam. The charges ranged from manipulation of the housing subsidy system, allocation list of contractors, advance payment and non-inspection by technical staff.

All of them held senior positions of chief directors and directors in the department. This was announced by MEC for human settlements, Olly Mlamleli, at a media briefing in Bloemfontein last week. The department has been able to reconcile R57-million of R500-million allegedly involved in the scam. The department has also finished 9 000 of 20 000 incomplete houses.

There are 2 000 people on the department’s housing waiting list database. The beneficiaries will be able to get their houses only in 2014 due to the department’s moratorium on building new houses and focusing in completing the incomplete houses. However, the department set aside a budget of R91-million for all housing projects.

“We have not yet blacklisted any contractor who did shoddy jobs in building houses in the province due to legal processes. But we have terminated their contracts with government and we are no longer doing business with them. There are three junior officials who are dismissed and cases of five senior managers are pending,” explained department spokesperson, Senne Bogatsu.

The six officials with pending cases are; chief director in housing programme management, Mamiki Mokhele; director: priority and intervention programmes Corney Twala; Fifi Makhaotse working in housing subsidies and development; Kaizer Maxatshwa of housing development planning and monitoring, Kabelo Koloi who is director of project management and technical services and Loyiso Ndenze who is the director: informal Settlements and land tenure.

“As one drove around Free State as chairperson of the portfolio committee on human settlements we could see that there were house that were incomplete. Then when I arrived at the department, I then discovered that the same status quo remains.

“That is when I also instituted investigation into this to check what was really happening. I also did not want to be part of what was happening,” said Mlamleli last year during the launch of the probe.

Meanwhile, September added that between April last year and June this year, the department had approved Finance-Linked Individual Subsidy Programme assistance to 330 people. The programme was established in April last year with a budget of R14.6-million. It is intended to help people obtain home loans from the bank.