South Africa’s “land reform” program, which ran from 2011 to 2017—and which is separate from the new plan to seize land without compensation—has been mired in fraud “on an enormous scale” in which government officials handed out farms and millions in grants to beneficiaries who did not qualify, a government report has revealed.
News of the typically African thievery has been revealed in a report in the South African Business Day newspaper, in an article headlined “Officials looted millions in land reform scam.”
According to the Business Day, the police’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which uncovered the fraud and corruption, has recommended that 42 people should be prosecuted.
Business Day obtained the report this week through a Promotion to Access to Information application, even though it was initially handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2018.
The report said that there were “major systemic weaknesses” in the land reform project. This “land reform” project was supposed to provide grants to blacks to enable them to buy white-owned agricultural land on a “willing seller, willing buyer” basis. (It is this “willing seller, willing buyer” program which will be scrapped when current proposals to seize land without compensation take official effect later this year).
Under the previous program, the beneficiaries of the state-funded grants were expected to stay and work on the farms.
However, the SIU examined 148 individual “land reform” projects between 2011 and 2017, and found that one in four was fraudulent.
In many cases, alleged beneficiaries were not even aware of the project and had never been to their farms.
Others were not eligible for the grants as they had never lived or worked on a farm.
In one case, a department official involved in the program named his family as the beneficiaries of the scheme.
The investigation has resulted in the state recovering more than 24 farms, valued at more than R382 million.
While the report also recommended 42 people be prosecuted for fraud, investigations are still ongoing, a prosecution spokesperson told Business Day.
Rendani Sadiki, the acting director general in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, told the paper that “we have got officials that are in jail as we speak. Most of them are already fired. We have got one that is convicted that is serving jail time.”
Last year, the ANC government, with the support of the virulent and openly anti-white “Economic Freedom Fighters” (EFF) party, approved a parliamentary report recommending a constitutional amendment to allow the seizure of white-owned property without compensation.