Three additional accused, Sodiki Ailwei Thomas (54), Setlamela Mafa Abraham (59) and Nesane Ntuseni Benedict (46) appeared in the Polokwane Special Commercial Crimes Court on 13 April 2023 to face charges of fraud amounting to R2 million.
This follows their arrest by the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation in the beginning of April 2023 and warned to appear before court to join the other seven accused, four farmers and three officials of the Department of Agriculture who were initially arrested in January this year.
Between 2013 and 2014, small scale farmers in Vhembe District were affected by flooding, and the Department of Agriculture was engaged to assist with funds.
The Department of Agriculture set aside a budget to reimburse the affected farmers by providing them with an opportunity to fix the damages on their farms and to submit the invoices to the Department for claims.
The processes unfolded and resulted in the Department reimbursing the farmers and some of the farmers colluded with Department of Agriculture personnel in submitting fraudulent claims or invoices.
The monies got paid without verifications. It was further established that the personnel would bring fictitious names to the payroll of the Department as subcontractors and would be paid without following due processes.
The funds from the Department would be paid to the farmers, who would then transfer the money to the subcontractors and the subcontractors would withdraw the monies and pay the Department personnel in cash.
The accused who were initially arrested in January included the farmers, Reuben Tshilandi (72), Barendt Martinis Vorster (49), Koekie Johanna Scholtz (40) Frans Mudau (68) and the following Department of Agriculture officials:
Chief Director Lesetja Marks Kola (49)
Director Makopoi Nkopane (46)
Assistant Director Segwane Lewin Matlakala (63)
The case was postponed to 30 June 2023.
The investigations are still ongoing.
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