The Molopo Magistrates’ Court postponed the case against Henny Smit (70), the former Municipality Manager of Mahikeng Local Municipality, to 08 December 2023, for the arrest of other suspects. He was granted R150 000 bail, and his bail conditions are that he should not interfere with the state’s witnesses and inform the investigating officer should he travel outside the Gauteng jurisdiction, where he resides. Smit was arrested on Tuesday, 10 October 2023, by members of the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation and Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Units. His arrest and court appearance relate to the unlawful sale of municipal land to the value of R144 million without council approval and further ignoring the competitive bidding process.

It is alleged that on 31 October 2007, Smit illegally agreed with a company for the sale of land belonging to the municipality. The said company only paid R5 million as a deposit to purchase the land. Investigations reveal that the company went into liquidation in December 2011 without paying the municipality the outstanding debt. The assets of this company were subsequently sold to another company for an amount of R16 million at an auction. In April 2012, the new owners of the land changed their company name, and between 2013 and 2015 they sold and transferred portions of the land to five other companies and a trust account. Investigations by the Hawks revealed that directors and shareholders of these companies had links to the company that was liquidated and they acted in common interest in illegally making gains from the municipal land that was acquired irregularly.

It was further revealed that the company that bought the land from the auction, entered into an unlawful agreement with the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), to build 2400 units at the value of over R301 million. An amount of R54- million was allegedly authorised by the North West Department of Human Settle for the start of the project. This contract however failed to materialise, as it was not budgeted for by SHRA. Investigations also revealed that an amount of over R550 000 was paid as gratification to one suspect and it was further traced to a purchase of a house to the accused’ daughter.

The charges drawn from this alleged offence are fraud, theft, Contravention of Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), four of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Activities Act (PRECCA), two of Corruption, money laundering, Contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA) about the loss by the Human Settlement department. More arrests are expected to be effected in this case, and investigations are completed.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Dr Rachel Makhari, together with the Provincial Head for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Major General Patrick Mbotho, lauded the teams from their respective entities for ensuring that perpetrators are brought to account for their alleged offences.

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