Residents from Ext.13 Lenasia protest at the site of an illegally built house after it was demolished by a bulldozer.091112. Picture: Chris Collingridge 204

Johannesburg - A Lenasia pastor has been found guilty of selling provincial land illegally to local residents.

The Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing said a 76-year-old pastor, Mandla Dlamini, from Lawley South, was part of the syndicate that illegally sold the state land in Lawley, Lenasia Extension 4 and 13, and Ennerdale.

He was due to be sentenced on Monday.

The department’s anti-fraud and corruption unit opened a criminal case last year with the provincial Hawks, and Dlamini and four other suspects were arrested.

“These unscrupulous individuals have sold several stands ranging from R1 500 to R60 000. Furthermore, illegal houses have been erected on these stands,” said Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe.

She was confident that all the cases brought against the suspects would result in jail sentences. “This should also encourage those with information that could lead to the arrest of other people who are involved in the illegal selling of land in the south to come forward. No one should be protected in this scourge,” said Mekgwe.

She reiterated that communities needed to be aware of fraudsters who pose as the department’s officials, selling land to unsuspecting members of the public.

The other four suspects would appear in court soon.

Violence broke out in these areas last year when the Housing Department began demolishing unoccupied illegal structures.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale visited the violence-torn area in November, and a task team, called the Special Lenasia Intervention Team, was formed to try to resolve the problems.

According to Housing Department spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa, an agreement had been reached between residents and the authorities on the way forward, but it would not been made public yet.

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The Star