Mr Eddie Mohoebi, Head of Communications for the Deeds Office has forwarded information in connection with the recent fradulent transfers at the Pretoria Deeds Office. These were based on questions raised in an article by Roy Cokayne of the Business Report publication.
1. Question: What is the outcome of Mr Pogisa Mesefo's investigation into the 33 properties owned by the Johannesburg Property Company that were allegedly irregularly or fraudulently transferred to private companies?
Answer: To date, the Department is only in possession of preliminary investigation reports, which will inform the internal investigation still currently underway by the Department. Until then, the Department is not in a position to respond to this question. However, it should be noted that the Department upholds clean governance and a corruption free administration and has no place for corrupt officials.
2. Question: Were there any irregularities with the transfer documentation found that should have meant the transfers should not have been registered? If so, does this apply to all 33 property transactions?
Answer: The Department will only be in a position to respond to this question and similar questions when the full internal investigation into the matter has been finalized.
3. Question: What were these irregularities?
Answer: As indicated above, the Department will only be able to respond to this and similar questions when the internal investigations have been completed and the report has been finalized.
4. Question: All 33 transactions contain the stamp and signature of one official at the Deeds Office, Edmund Sibisi. Has he been suspended, pending an internal disciplinary hearing, or has any other action been taken against him to date?
Answer: The contents of the preliminary reports cannot be disclosed until the entire investigation is finalized. No action has been taken against anyone at this stage.
5. Question: I understand that Mr Sibisi is on paid leave. Can you confirm if this is a holiday for which he applied for normal annual leave or whether he is on paid leave at the instructions of the Department or any of its entities, i.e. so-called "gardening leave"?
Answer: It is paid leave which he applied for prior to the investigations and it was granted.
6. Question: Have any other officials at the Deeds Office been implicated in any of these 33 irregular transactions? If so, how many and what has (or is) happening to them?
Answer: Only when the investigations are completed will we know, amongst others, whether or not there were any irregular transactions; if there were irregular transactions, who were involved; what the scope of the irregularities if any is, etc. The report will also make specific recommendations, including possible actions to be taken against anyone found to have been involved in irregular/fraudulent transactions.
Again it must be emphasized that given our commitment to a corruption-free administration, the Department will ensure that anybody found to have been involved in fraudulent/irregular transactions is brought to book.
7. Question: What is the process and timeline now for any action the Department/Deeds Office may take against one of more officials related to these property transfers?
Answer: Any action by the Department will be determined by the outcome of the investigation and the timeline will be as stipulated by the public service legislative framework.
8. Question: If internal disciplinary hearings are to be held, when will the disciplinary inquiry be convened?
Answer: At this stage the Department cannot say whether or not there will be internal disciplinary hearings as the report, which needs to first indicate whether there is any wrongdoing or not, has not yet been finalized. Should there be any wrongdoing the report will make the necessary recommendations.
9. Question: What sanctions are available to the chairman of the inquiry for this type of offence?
Answer: The Department operates within the legislative framework of the public service, which amongst others, guides general sanctions to be imposed for particular contraventions. It must be noted that the report has not been finalized, and as such it would be presumptuous on our part to discuss disciplinary hearings and sanctions at this stage.
10. Question: How long should the process take to finalize?
Answer: The investigation is expected to take about a month.
11. Question: What is being done to rectify the irregular/fraudulent transfer of these 33 property transactions?
Answer: The Department has to first establish whether there have been irregular/fraudulent transactions. Once this has been established, only then can the Department decide to take corrective measures or not.
Issued by: Communications Directorate
Head of Communications, Mr Eddie Mohoebi
Tel: (012) 312 8502 Cell 082 550 1445
Fax: (012) 323 3693