Former registrar of deeds faces hearing over Joburg property fraud
The former chief registrar of deeds in Pretoria, Pogisa Mesefo, is to face an internal disciplinary hearing related to his alleged involvement in the irregular and allegedly fraudulent transfer of 33 properties owned by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) in 2010 worth millions of rand.
A disciplinary inquiry into the conduct of Edmund Sibisi, the then acting deputy registrar of deeds in Pretoria, on charges of misconduct related to the same property transfers, has resulted in a sanction of dismissal.
But Mphati Sehloho, a Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesman, confirmed Sibisi had exercised his right to an internal appeal process and the department was awaiting the decision of the appeal authority.
The department declined to provide specific details about the charges faced by Sibisi and Mesefo. Sehloho said yesterday that it could not disclose the charges "because it is an internal process".
He confirmed the investigation into Mesefo's conduct had been completed and the department was "in the process of initiating an internal disciplinary process against him".
Sehloho added that no other officials from the department were implicated in any wrongdoing by the investigation.
The department confirmed last year that Mesefo's suspension had been lifted in May but he had not yet been cleared of any wrongdoing related to these transfers.
Mesefo was suspended in July 2010. He had been suspended for 23 months when the suspension was lifted. Sehloho said at the time that Mesefo was not reporting to the Deeds Office but working in an alternate branch within the department as a legal adviser for land restitution in the Free State.
He said Mesefo was not allowed to return to his previous position in the Deeds Office in Pretoria because the investigation into the irregular and fraudulent transfers had not been completed and Mesefo had not been cleared.
Sehloho said the outcome of the investigation would guide the department in deciding whether to allow Mesefo to return to his previous position.
Sibisi was suspended on September 27, 2010. The disciplinary inquiry issued the sanction of dismissal at the end of November last year.
Sibisi and six others appeared last year in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on fraud and corruption charges related to the irregular transfer of the properties. Sehloho said the case had been postponed and the department was waiting for a new court date.
Along with Sibisi, Pretoria-based attorney Peet Viljoen and two of his former employees, Ronel van Vuuren and Anelene van der Berg, Johannesburg attorney Edwin Risimate Maringa, JPC employee Dorah Madisa, and Wiets Nell are facing charges of fraud and corruption related to these property transactions. It is alleged that Viljoen and Maringa were part of a syndicate.
The JPC launched a civil court application to reinstate its ownership of all 33 properties. Virtually all the property transfers followed the same route and were transferred to companies with links to Zunaid Moti, the chairman of unlisted company Abelengani.
The directors of the companies that bought the properties were not necessarily aware that the properties had been fraudulently transferred.
Zamien Investments 45, which bought 30 of the properties, and Zambrotti subsequently announced they would proceed with legal action to recover the money lost in the transaction by means of civil action against the City of Johannesburg, the JPC, the Deeds Office and all parties involved, and secondly by means of the criminal justice system.