Durban — The IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature says it is convinced the arrests of the former head of the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and his accomplice were merely the tip of the iceberg in relation to the suspected corruption and embezzlement of department funds.
Earlier this week, Hawks members from the Durban Serious Corruption Investigation arrested two suspects aged 62 and 63 for fraud, corruption and money laundering.
It is alleged that former department head Dr Siphiwe Mkhize, 63, and his accomplice, Advocate Sthembiso Mdladla, 62, misrepresented to a businessman that he should pay R1 million to a vehicle dealership. Subsequently, the 62-year-old acting judge, who was a service provider to the department at that time, allegedly paid R300 000 to the same vehicle dealership and purchased a R1.3 million vehicle that was later handed over to the head of department.
A case of fraud, corruption and money laundering was reported at Hilton police station. Hawks members took over the investigation, and the two were arrested on Tuesday morning.
Mkhize was released on R15 000 and Mdladla on R10 000 bail.
IFP Agriculture and Land Affairs KZN spokesperson Nhlanhla Msimango said the IFP applauded the news of the arrests and was convinced that more heads should roll.
“We believe that numerous department officials were embroiled in corruption involving millions of rands since 2016, during his tenure in office,” Msimango said.
“We believe that if the forensic investigation probing the drought relief fund – launched in 2012 by former MEC Dr Meshack Radebe – can be released, it would open a can of worms. Almost R60 million in taxpayers’ money meant to assist emerging farmers in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal went missing.”
“It is unacceptable – and raises questions – that, despite this department changing hands from MEC Dr Meshack Radebe to Mr Themba Mthembu to the Honourable Bongi Sithole-Moloi, none of these MECs has had the courage to release the forensic report,” Msimango went on.
He questioned why the forensic investigation had not been released and who was being protected.
“While much remains to be done, the IFP would like to commend the NPA for its work in bringing to book criminals masquerading as office-bearers. We trust their good work will continue as they root out corruption in the public service,” Msimango said.