The 23-month suspension of the chief registrar of deeds in Pretoria, Pogisa Mesefo, has been lifted. The suspension related to the irregular and allegedly fraudulent transfer of 33 Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) properties in 2010 worth millions of rand.
However, Mesefo has not yet been cleared of any wrongdoing related to these transfers.
Edmund Sibisi, the then acting deputy registrar of deeds in Pretoria, is to face a Department of Rural Development and Land Reform disciplinary hearing.
Sibisi and six others are expected to appear in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court later this year on fraud and corruption charges related to the irregular transfer of the JPC properties.
Mphati Sehloho, a department spokesman, confirmed on Friday that Mesefo’s suspension had been lifted on May 9.
Mesefo was suspended on July 12, 2010.
Sehloho said Mesefo was not reporting to the deeds office but working in an alternate branch within the department as a legal adviser for land restitution in the Free State.
Mesefo’s duties involved advising the commissioner on the Restitution of Land Rights Act and he was on the same salary scale as when he was the chief registrar of deeds, he said.
Sehloho said Mesefo was not allowed to return to his previous position in the deeds office in Pretoria because the investigation into these irregular and fraudulent transfers had not been completed and Mesefo had not been cleared of any wrongdoing.
He said the outcome of the investigation would guide the department in deciding whether to allow Mesefo to return to his previous position.
Sibisi was suspended on September 27, 2010.
Sehloho stressed that both Mesefo and Sibisi had been suspended as “a precautionary measure” following the irregularities. However, Sehloho said an investigation had been conducted after Sibisi was suspended and he had now been charged with misconduct.
“The disciplinary inquiry will commence in due course and he remains on suspension,” he said.
Along with Sibisi, Pretoria-based attorney Peet Viljoen and two of his former employees, Ronel van Vuuren and Anelene van der Berg, Johannesburg attorney Edwin Risimate Maringa, JPC employee Dorah Madisa, and Wiets Nell are facing charges of fraud and corruption related to these property transactions.
It is alleged that Viljoen and Maringa, who are out on bail of R50 000 each, were part of a syndicate that identified property belonging to the JPC. The property was then allegedly fraudulently transferred by the deeds office in Pretoria.
Viljoen denied he was guilty of any wrongdoing, claiming that he was the correspondent attorney for Maringa and the whistle-blower in the case.
The JPC has launched a civil court application to reinstate its ownership of all 33 JPC properties.
Virtually all the property transfers followed the same route and were transferred to companies with links to Zunaid Moti, the chairman of unlisted company Abelengani.
The directors of the companies that bought the properties were not necessarily aware that the properties had been fraudulently transferred.
Zamien Investments 45, which bought 30 of the properties, and Zambrotti subsequently announced they would proceed with legal action to recover the money lost in the transaction by means of civil action against the City of Johanesburg, the JPC, deeds office and all parties involved, and secondly by means of the criminal justice system.
The Hawks said in 2010 that it was investigating the case.