Millions missing but DLA picks scapegoat

Alleged misadministration has seen millions disappear from the Department of Land Affairs (DLA) in the past financial year. According to the Public Service Commission’s Professor Stan Sangweni a recorded R45,65 million has been lost due to financial misadministration in all national and provincial departments.

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Sangweni said the DLA was responsible for R20 million of that amount. But director general (DG) Glen Thomas retaliated, saying the department hadn’t “lost” the money. said the commission had made a mistake and that only R8 million had been misspent. “This amount is related to the case of Nceba Nqana, suspended land claims commissioner of Mpumalanga,” Thomas said. 

T he case involves the alleged systematic inflation of sales prices for 21 vegetable and dairy farms in the Badplaas valley. Initial evidence indicated that land speculators, allegedly working with land commission officials, fraudulently inflated land prices on gazetted farms and then overcharged the taxpayer up to 2 000% in one instance and 300% on at least six other transactions.

Nqana was suspended in late 2004 and later resigned. No charges were ever brought against him. But Agri SA’s land affairs committee chairperson Dr Theo de Jager said Thomas’s statement is a blatant attempt at shifting the blame for the vast amount of money that has gone unanswered for. “I don’t buy it for one second,” said De Jager, adding, “The Nqana matter was referred to court and the judgment stated there was nothing improper about the valuations. In fact, the judge commented that the valuations done under the supervision of Nqana were better than the previous ones. “was never charged with any wrongdoing.

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 If the DG is so convinced of his case, why hasn’t been charged for this alleged mismanagement of funds? It’s an immense amount of money and with so many illegalities going on within the department it’s not surprising money disappears.” As an example de Jager cites the many costly valuations done on farms earmarked for restitution. “There are so many valuations commissioned but no action is taken. The valuations keep expiring and every time they expire they have to be redone at immense cost. suspect that the department can’t explain this away, so instead the reports go missing.” De Jager said it is unfair to lay the blame at Nqana’s door as the department as a whole is to blame for the missing millions.