A former Eastern Cape project manager in the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, found guilty of fraud of more than R2.6 million, is expected to appear in court on 29 November 2021 for sentencing.
Mzoli Phakade was convicted on multimillion-rand fraud charges in the Gqeberha Regional Court on Monday, 22 November, the DispatchLive reports.
Phakade was accused of assisting his co-accused, Mongezi Alfred Mde – now deceased – with defrauding the department.
According to national prosecuting authority spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani, Mde had submitted an application for a land redistribution and agricultural development (LRAD) grant through the department in January 2006 after showing interest in buying a farm. The farm called Honeyville, in Humansdorp, was a fully equipped dairy farm on the market with a value of R7.7 million at the time.
On January 30, 2006, Mde submitted an application for an LRAD grant with the project name CPAD Farm Holdings Trust, a name similar to that of his company. The problem started when Mde submitted his application together with 38 other beneficiaries, all alleged descendants of the Mde clan.
However, according to Ngcakani, the 38 beneficiaries did not apply for the grant and were not aware of the existence of the CPAD Farm Holdings Trust.
Phakade, who was assigned to administer Mde’s application, “certified most of the copies of the identity documents of the beneficiaries attached to the fraudulent applications,” Ngcakani said.
Phakade is being accused of doing this without verifying with the beneficiaries.
DispatchLive further reports that the LRAD grant of just over R2.6 million was approved by the department on 2 August, 2006, on condition that the farmland with all its fixtures and assets be owned by the CPAD Farm Holdings Trust.
On 23 November, 2006, Phakade submitted documentation to his supervisor stating that the farm project be transferred to the name of CPAD Farm Holdings Pty Ltd.
However, his supervisor refused to sign the documents.
“Phakade’s request was therefore unlawful,” Ngcakani said. “He knew that Mde was the sole director of CPAD Farm Holdings Pty Ltd and that none of the other 38 beneficiaries formed part of the company,” Ngcakani said.
Despite this, Phakade instructed a conveyancing firm in Humansdorp to transfer the farm into the name of CPAD Farm Holdings Pty Ltd.
It is further reported that the following day, Phakade submitted a fraudulent letter to the registrar of deeds indicating that the transfer should be expedited. The forged documentation was uncovered, and he was later arrested by the Hawks.
South African citrus min the spotlight
Ailimpo, an EU organisation that promotes the lemon and grapefruit sector and coordinates the production, trading and processing of these two citrus products, has called for tighter controls on EU imports of South African lemons.
This, following a record level of detections of citrus black spot (CBS) this summer.
The European commission has confirmed through the Europhyt/Traces phytosanitary alert system that 10 batches of lemons from South Africa have been intercepted this summer infected with CBS, a dreaded disease that is apparently not found in Europe.
“This is a record figure – unprecedented – and has set off alarm bells for the interprofessional Ailimpo. Spain, as the second largest lemon producing country in the world and the leading country in fresh exports, cannot, under any circumstances, run the risk of South African lemons entering Europe infected with this dreaded disease,” Ailimpo pointed out.
The entry of this pest from South Africa into Spanish lemon farms would mean a huge economic loss for their farmers and exporters, followed by a “terrible negative impact on the employment generated by the Spanish sector”, the organisation stated
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