Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg on Tuesday invited house and land seekers, who have been cheated out their money in illicit deals involving council officials, to come forward and lay complaints.
Mayor Herman Mashaba has appealed to anyone with information of the unlawful sale of stands and RDP houses to come forward so that law-enforcement agencies can investigate the scams.
"Corruption has no place in this administration ... we will work tirelessly, and in collaboration with institutions such as the Hawks [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] and all other institutions within the criminal justice system to ensure that the residents of Johannesburg receive the quality services they deserve," Mashaba said.
Lucky Sindane, who is part of the City's Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) looking into such complaints, said: "This thing of selling land illegally has spread across Johannesburg and more people who have been being scammed are coming out."
On Monday a former City of Johannesburg official, Mayedwa Njilana, appeared at the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court in connection with selling two City owned stands for R30 000 in Weilers Farm, South of Johannesburg.
The former community liaison officer, was arrested at weekend by the South African Police Service on charges of fraud and corruption. He was, however, released on R2 000 bail after his court appearance.
In September 2010, Njilana was appointed by a consultant working for the City's Housing Department to assist with registration of title deeds. He was also a community liaison officer for a contractor appointed by the Housing Department to build houses in Kanana Park, Weilers Farm, in 2008.
In 2011, the complainant heard about a City official who was selling stands around Weilers Farm for R15,000 each. The complainant eventually met with the official identified as Njilana. They allegedly agreed on the terms of payment for the stand.
The complainant alleges that Njilala was paid a deposit of R6,000 and the balance in monthly installments.
A second victim, also from Weilers Farm, allegedly paid a deposit of R8,000 into Njilana's account and the remainder in installments. The second complainant was allocated a stand in the area, but the stand tuned out to belong to someone else.
Both the victims tried for years to get their money back from Njilana without success until they approached the City’s Group GFIS department in June this year.
"These two people that he scammed, are domestic workers, people who don't have access to information. He sold the stands R15 000, where can you get a stand for R15 000?" asked Sindane.
"People have always been scammed, but they didn't know where to go. They would go to the police station and not get help, they would go to the municipality and still not be assisted. But since our unit has been established, there is progress and people are coming out."
Njilana's arrest was the third this year related to the illegal sale of the City’s properties.
Sindane said about two weeks ago they arrested a Councillor, who was also selling land illegally and last month an employee of the City of Joburg was arrested with her friends for the same offence.