File picture

Johannesburg - A rural development and land reform official has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for fraud and two counts of theft in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Natasha Kara said on Monday, 53-year-old Patrick Bhekumuzi Masoka was convicted of fraud, theft of livestock valued at R40 000 and theft of cattle valued at approximately R19 000.

He was employed as a chief principal planner at the rural development and land reform department and was a project manager of the department’s settlement and production land acquisition project.

“The department had acquired a farm in Ladysmith that was to be allocated to the farm dwellers that wished to farm and possibly did not have access to land. The department would assist these individuals financially to purchase the farm on which they would conduct farming operations,” Kara said.

“Instead the accused, his wife and her family benefited from the land acquisition wherein the wife was made a trustee of the trust, even though she was not a farm dweller on the property. The accused and his family then took up residence on the farm.”

Kara said during the trial, Senior State Advocate Ranjini Govender led the evidence of seven witnesses including a forensic investigator, farm dwellers, the owner of the farm and valuators who worked with the accused.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in KZN, Advocate Moipone Noko welcomed the sentence. 

“I trust that a sentence of this nature will send out a clear message to government employees about the repercussions of fraud and corruption.”

African News Agency (ANA)