Durban – An investigation into a housing scam has led to the recovery of more than R10.6 million in subsidies, which unscrupulous government employees defrauded from the provincial government through their illegal occupation of low-cost houses.
This emerged when KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay gave his budget speech to the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. He said that out of the R3.5 billion allocated to his department, R135.4m was used for administration costs to fight fraud and corruption within the department.
So far, investigations had led to 566 criminal charges being laid and, of these, 449 convictions.
Pillay said the internal investigation had uncovered more than 1 500 other fraudsters, not linked to the government.
They had confessed to the illegal occupation of houses and volunteered to pay back about R18.2m, because they were non-qualifying beneficiaries, to the department to escape prosecution.
The department had worked with the police and their Special Investigating Unit and Anti-Corruption Unit for four years to stop the rot.
So far there had also been a total of 351 internal disciplinary cases.
Pillay said that his department had spent the whole R2.9bn allocated for housing in the previous financial year.
In the previous year it had built 25 940 houses – compared to Gauteng’s 22 365 houses and R4bn budget.
The shortage of houses remained a challenge as informal settlements kept escalating. Durban had a huge backlog, driven by job-seekers coming to the city.
“Let us be under no illusion about the extent of this challenge,” Pillay said.