Pair jailed for RDP property fraud
A former top official at Mogale City (Krugersdorp area) and a friend are set to start serving their jail terms after the Pretoria High Court turned down their appeal on their fraud convictions relating to money they took from residents in return for RPD houses.
Arthur Tshepo Meje was sentenced earlier in the Pretoria Regional Court to an effective fiveyear jail term and his close friend and associate, Edward Mqahayi, to six years.
Both were out on bail pending their appeal.
Meje had worked as a deputy secretary at the city and later became the chief assistant to the city's civil engineer, one Van Reenen, working in the office dealing with the transfer of ownership of RDP houses.
The court earlier heard that beneficiaries were issued with letters informing them that a house had been allocated to them.
These letters were called "happy letters". Van Reenen was the only official in that office allowed to sign the letters.
It was also made clear to the court that the beneficiaries were not expected to pay for the RDP houses.
When Van Reenen resigned, Meje was put in charge of issuing the "happy letters" and was the sole signatory to these letters. At the time Mogale City approved an RDP project known as Kagiso Extension 14.
AMost complainants were introduced to Mqahayi when he took them to the stands and in most cases the money was paid over to him. He was well-known in the community and also known as Mdlakadlaka. The court heard that the two knew each other well and in some instances, Meje introduced the complainants to Mqahayi.
One woman testified that she paid R3 500 to Mqahayi and the letter of occupation was signed by her son, because she "bought" the house for him.
Both fraudsters complained that there was no proof that any one of them received the money, and that some of the complainants only identified them while they were in the dock.
But Judge Legodi Phatudi said the complainants had met the accused - especially Mqahayi and knew what they looked like.
One victim testified that "he saw them with his own two eyes".
The judge said most of the complainants testified that they gave the money to Mqahayi after the price was fixed and before they received their "happy letters": "The appellants knew very well that the beneficiaries are not expected to pay anything to Mogale City and no one is allowed to receive any money..."
They "foresaw the bitterness of the pill" should they issue receipts. "The happy letters served as an 'icing sugar' coating the 'bitterness of the pill'. The 'icing sugar' served as proof of payment," the judge said in turning down the appeal.