Report reveals widespread corruption in land sector

File photo: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

File photo: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Dec 8, 2019


Between 2012 and 2018, the NGO, Corruption Watch, received more than 700 reports regarding land issues, where government representatives had been implicated.

Those and other statistics, which gave insight on how public servants abused the power entrusted to them for personal gain, were published this week in a report prepared by Melusi Ncala, a Corruption Watch researcher.

Ncala’s report titled, “Unearthing corruption in the land sector”, was unveiled at St Paul’s Anglican Church on Monty Naicker Road. 

It delved into the “sensitive” land saga and he said there were two outstanding issues for him, having analysed complaints received since 2012.

Data collected revealed 60% of complaints received related to housing, and 24.3 % to land. KZN provided the second-highest number of reports (11.4%), and Gauteng led with 38.3%.

Ncala said political corruption was an important sub-category of his research, and that it happened “on a grand scale we’ve seen instances where politicians create laws that favoured corporations in relation to land and infrastructure development.”

The other outstanding issue was the marginalisation of women regarding land ownership, which is a long-standing problem.

Ncala was at odds with the fact that some officials demanded sexual favours from women in exchange for land and houses.

Similarly, he said public servants solicited bribes from individuals who readily coughed-up cash for privileges they would not be entitled to like registering a plot of land, approving building plans, and disregarding by-laws.

His report ventured into how government policies and legislation worked hand-in-hand with the country’s colonial past, through the apartheid-era and into democracy to favour some and marginalise others.

In unpacking present day land corruption issues, Ncala and his team chose Durban for fieldwork exercises.

“The highest number of corruption complaints about the land sector was reported in Durban. The area also has an interesting mix of environmental, industrial and political challenges.”

One of the areas they visited was Clairwood (south of Durban).

“What stood out for us were the people, and the distinct element of fear that they carried. They were being bullied by the trucking industry and this affected their livelihood. They complained that the eThekwini Municipality turned a blind eye to their troubles, which also led to some health issues for them,” said Ncala.

Msawakhe Mayisela, eThekwini spokesperson denied the city made decisions without consulting communities. “Clairwood is a sensitive issue, we are looking into it.”

About corrupt officials, Mayisela said it had zero tolerance.

“We have disciplined and dismissed officials who committed acts of corruption in the past.”

Sunday Tribune

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