Thursday Jul 08, 2010
An investigation has been launched by the City of Tshwane into properties owned by the city that may have been fraudulently or irregularly transferred to private owners by the Deeds Office in Pretoria.
Thabo Tshweu, the executive director corporate auxiliary and administration services, confirmed yesterday that a reconciliation process had made the city aware of property transactions that could not be verified against the existing tracking procedures.
However, Tshweu stressed that the fact these transactions could not be verified did not necessarily imply that these transfers were irregular and/or fraudulent.
These transactions would be scrutinised against existing approval processes to determine the status of the transfer transactions, he said.
He said: "Should any of the transactions... not pass the transaction verification processes, court action will be instituted in the appropriate court if in the best interests of the municipality.
"Should any internal investigation lead to the conclusion that real property was indeed illegally or fraudulently transferred, appropriate action will be taken, which may include the laying of criminal charges against the involved parties."
Business Report reported last month that almost 30 properties owned by the Tshwane Metro and North West Housing Corporation (NWHC) had allegedly been fraudulently transferred to private owners by the Deeds Office in Pretoria.
These transactions were in addition to the 33 properties owned by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) that were fraudulently transferred to private companies, also by the Deeds Office in Pretoria.
Most of the companies to which the JPC properties were eventually transferred have links to Zunaid Moti, the chairman of unlisted luxury property group Abalengani.
A spokesperson for the Hawks confirmed last month that it was involved in an investigation into the irregular and fraudulent transfer of state-owned properties to private companies at the Deeds Office in Pretoria and the JPC was the "main complainant" in the case.
The alleged fraudulent transfers involving City of Tshwane and NWHC properties were mentioned in the minutes of a meeting chaired by the chief registrar of deeds, Sam Lefafa, and representatives from the Tshwane Metro and NWHC on June 1 "to discuss the fraudulent transfer of municipal-owned properties".
The minutes state that Lefafa informed the meeting that "the City of Tshwane and the Deeds Office is currently under siege with all the fraudulent transfers of municipal-owned properties despite caveats and/or pre-emptive conditions being noted against such properties".
A City of Tshwane representative told the meeting that a total of 27 vacant stands in Lotus Gardens in Pretoria had been transferred fraudulently.
Despite this reference in the minutes, Tshweu said the city had not yet established the "real status" of the transfers that could not be verified and therefore could not comment on "an exact number of 'real', illegal and/or fraudulent transactions, if any". He was unable to comment on the identity of the companies involved.
Transactions being verified were for the 2008/09 financial year, Tshweu said.