KZN’s housing fraudsters hold onto their jobs

George Mari

DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements

Despite being found guilty of fraud to the tune of R17 million, some 500 KZN housing officials remain at their desks having received a slap on the wrist.

The damning information forms the basis of a parliamentary reply to the DA by KZN Human Settlements MEC, Ravi Pillay. According to the response, the fraud relates mostly to low income subsidy fraud with a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) probe revealing that;

• There were 485 criminal cases registered with the SAPS

• A total of 421 officials found guilty in a court of law

• 398 cases were finalized by entering into plea bargains.

According to the reply, there were 1 566 acknowledgements of debt signed, which includes the 485 cases registered with the SAPS. A total of 147 officials were charged with providing fraudulent affidavits in the line of their work while 338 were charged with fraud. The investigation, categorized into government officials and municipal officials, also indicates that;

• 1 286 government employees signed admissions of debt totalling R14 million

• 269 municipal officials admitted fraudulent activity worth R2.6 million

• 11 private individuals owned up with R216 627 due to be paid back

It is staggering that, despite the seriousness of the offences, not one official was dismissed. Instead, fines of up to R10 000 or a wholly suspended sentence for five years maximum were meted out. The DA will be calling for a full breakdown of the court decisions in order to gauge the penalties imposed. The reply also reveals that while the names of the initial set of officials convicted was published in the media, the balance were subjected to internal disciplinary hearings with the department having no knowledge of the outcome of these hearings

In the interest of clean governance the Premier must be seen to be decisive. These fraudsters have abused their position as civil servants and need to be punished appropriately. We call on the Premier to ensure that suitable action is taken – even if it means their dismissal.

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