Barely a month after former minister Bongani Bongo and 10 others appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court over alleged shady land deals, details have emerged of another land sale.
The deal was picked up in a notice in the agriculture magazine Landbouweekblad on November 26, 2020. One of the accused, who holds directorship in a number of companies, including Bongiveli Construction and Vantiblox, is implicated in what seems to be the inflated sale of land to the City of Mbombela Local Municipality (CMLM).
The original purchase of the 161-hectare Biggar Farm on the R38 in Barberton dates back to 2012, when Bongiveli Construction had bought the land from a GJJ Bruwer for R12 million.
Subsequent to that, it was transferred to Vantiblox for R15 million and sold to CMLM for R34 million, netting the accused R19 million in profit.
Lowvelder is in possession of the documents confirming the price and registration date of the property. Even more perplexing is that the transfer registrations from Bongiveli Construction to Vantiblox, and from Vantiblox to the City of Mbombela, were done on the same day.
Questions to municipal spokesperson Joseph Ngala remained unanswered at the time of publishing.
When asked for comment, Ken Robertson of the Freedom Front Plus alleged: “An additional R19 million was used to pay a syndicate closely linked to ANC political hierarchy that had previously been exposed and arrested by the Hawks for dodgy land deals and other similar suspected criminal activity.”
The Freedom Front Plus called for an investigation into this latest land deal and added that the party has alerted the provincial police commissioner, Lt Gen Bethuel Zuma, and the National Prosecuting Authority for further investigation into the syndicate’s dealings as well as CMLM.
Lowvelder will report on this investigation as it develops.
Lowvelder submitted an enquiry to the municipality’s spokesperson, Joseph Ngala, to question whether there are any checks and balances in place at CMLM before similar land purchases are signed off.
Ngala was presented with aerial photographs of the land, indicating that it lies unused. It appears that no development has taken place on it.
In light hereof, Lowvelder inquired what the reason behind the purchase was, and whether the municipality made use of land evaluators when purchasing land.
Lastly, Lowvelder asked if the purchase was approved by council and if so, if the agenda of that meeting will be made available to the public as it is in the public interest when such large land purchases are made.
Ngala directed Lowvelder to the provincial department of human settlements and said: “The department embarks on its own processes to procure a particular piece of land before transferring it to the municipality that made that request.
“I would suggest that this query be referred to them for clarity on the process followed and whether it was within the market value.”
Ngala’s response came shortly before the newspaper went to print.
Lowvelder has presented the department with the same questions and will report on its feedback as soon as it becomes available.
This article was republished from Lowvelder with permission