Five years in jail for state land fraud
Johannesburg - A man found guilty on 94 counts of fraud relating to the sale of state land has been sentenced to five years in jail, the Gauteng human settlements department said on Sunday.
Spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa said Richard Zikhali was sentenced in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Friday.
"Zikhali could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison as that would fit the crime that he committed, but the magistrate considered the fact that he had already spent four years in prison, as he was denied bail since his arrest in 2010," said Motlhaolwa in a statement.
"The kingpin Richard Zikhali made admissions for his involvement in the crimes and he remains in custody after his arrest in 2010 for defrauding people of millions of rands through illegally selling state land."
His wife, Hlengiwe Ximba, also pleaded guilty to corruption and was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, three of which were suspended. Michael Magodola, who also faced 94 counts of fraud, was found not guilty due to admissions made by Zikhali.
Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo welcomed the sentence and said this should send a strong message to every citizen that crime did not pay.
"This man has stolen from the poor and the state. People have been defrauded and lost their hard-earned money. We were supposed to build RDP houses for those who cannot afford to pay for their own houses," he said.
Mamabolo urged people not to fall prey to unscrupulous individuals who went around masquerading as officials of government.
"When people buy land they should check with the department and local government representatives before any transaction could take place. Any transaction that takes place in a boot of a car should raise alarm," said Mamabolo.
Motlhaolwa said a case involving Aaron Mkhabela was postponed to 29 August after his lawyer withdrew.
Mkhabela was arrested after he allegedly posed as an official of Gauteng human settlements and tried to sell RDP houses and flats in Lehae and Mzimhlope.
Mkhabela was arrested during a sting operation by the department's anti-fraud and corruption unit and the Hawks, after a tip-off from prospective buyers in February.