A former KZN official who was entrusted with land claims and redistribution has been sent to prison for a decade after stealing a farm and livestock near Ladysmith.
Patrick Bhekumuzi Masoka (53) was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Monday after being convicted of fraud and two counts of theft.
The accused was employed as a chief principal planner at the Department of Rural Development & Land Reform and was project manager of the department’s settlement and production land acquisition project.
The department had acquired a farm outside Ladysmith that was to be allocated to the Shabalala family, who 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.
“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,” said Director of Public Prosecutions regional spokesperson Natasha Kara.
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 accused was convicted of fraud, theft of livestock valued at R40,000 and theft of cattle valued at approximately R19,000. He was sentenced to an effective 10 years behind bars.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in KZN, Advocate Moipone Noko, welcomes 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.”
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