One of the houses that was built on government land at Lenasia South. Photo: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg - Bonginkosi Richard Zikhali has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for his role in selling state land illegally over a period of more than three years.

He was found guilty on 94 counts of fraud after it was discovered that he had sold land, without any authorisation, belonging to the Department of Human Settlements.

The fraud totalled R787 292.

Zikhali and his co-accused, his second wife Hlengiwe Ximba, had worked for his company Simunye Property Development, selling land in the Lenasia and Ennerdale areas.

Zikhali was arrested in 2010 and remained in custody.

He spent three years and seven months in prison before his conviction.

Ximba was found not guilty on the fraud charges, but was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption. Three of the six years were suspended.

During Zikhali’s sentencing in the Johannesburg Commercial Crime Court, Judge Philip Venter said:

“The persons who paid (for the houses) can’t get title deeds and the department is in a conundrum to remove them from the stands.”

He said some of the victims had additional expenses after building houses on the land.

Judge Venter said the stands were supposed to be for the poor who could not afford to buy.

“It remains uncertain if any of the people who paid will receive anything for it,” he said.

Zikhali had admitted during the trial that he had paid bribes to officials in the department to continue with his scam.

Judge Venter said Zikhali had told a social worker that his business was doing so well that he was able to buy bricks to build a large house.

The judge said Zikhali did not verbalise any remorse, nor did he attempt to stop his operation. Instead the fraud was discovered only after complaints were received from the victims over absence of title deeds and the lack of electricity connections.

The judge said it had taken meticulous planning for Zikhali to sustain his scheme and to bribe people. Zikhali had not paid any compensation to the complainants even though he had offered to sell assets to do so.

The judge said he was not convinced that Zikhali’s change of plea was a sign of genuine remorse.

Long list of rogues who abused RDP system

Below are the names of people who were found guilty of selling land and RDP houses illegally, spreading over various years and courts:

* Chris Matlala, an ex-employee of the human settlements department.

* Sylvester Keyisi, a former employee of Mogale City municipality.

* Richard Zikhali, sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on Friday.

* Hlengiwe Ximba, wife of Richard Zikhali.

* Gcinile Sithole and Nomusa Tshabalala, members of Vlakfontein Development Forum.

* Mandla Dlamini, a 76-year-old pastor.

* Lerato Motshoeneng, a former member of Evaton Development Forum.

* Sifiso Litau, a former employee of the City of Joburg municipality. He is awaiting sentencing.

* Muziwamandla Poto and Elizabeth Masinya, known as Radebe and MaRadebe. Poto is a former employee of the City of Joburg.

All these cases were investigated by the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Unit of the Hawks or SAPS.

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The Star