About 60 land grants collectively worth R699 million have been probed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) since 2011, it said in its annual report.
The SIU said it started investigating allegations of irregularities in the awarding and administration of grants under the department of rural development's land reform programme in March 2011.
The investigation was expected to end in March next year.
“The SIU team has to date collected, scanned and reviewed several thousand documents and since the start of the investigation, obtained affidavits from more than 3000
individuals,” it said in the report.
The SIU had found that, in certain instances, there were inflated numbers for beneficiaries.
It also discovered 636 fake beneficiaries.
The SIU found that documentation was forged, there were allegations of bribery, and that previous owners of farms had not vacated the property after it had been bought by the department on behalf of the beneficiaries.
“Three matters were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for the institution of criminal prosecution against both department officials and external parties in KwaZulu-Natal,” the SIU said.
“Three accused are currently before court on charges relating to fraud.”
It said a further seven cases were referred to the police.
“The total amount involved in these seven criminal cases is in excess of R96.6m in fraudulent grants.”
The SIU handed over 12 reports to the department with recommendations to institute disciplinary action in 11 cases.
“To date, two officials have been dismissed with a number of further disciplinary proceedings about to commence or... be instituted.”
The Democratic Alliance said on Monday it would write to Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti to request an update on the progress of the cases.
“Land reform is a vital cog in government’s efforts to redress the legacy of apartheid. All those guilty of defrauding land reform beneficiaries must face the full might of the law,” DA MP Mpowele Swathe said in a statement,
“In unequivocal support of land reform, the DA will continue to monitor government’s progress with land reform to ensure that it truly promotes economic inclusion, lifts people out of poverty and supports growth and prosperity in the agricultural sector.” -Sapa