Mpumalanga farmers annoyed by R28 million empowerment fund heist

Business News

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The National African Farmers Union (NAFU) in Mpumalanga on Thursday welcomed the arrest of nine people allegedly involved in defrauding R28 million from a fund meant to assist farmers, describing it as an empowerment heist.

NAFU Provincial President, Jabu Mahlangu called for the dissolution of the trust board and for the asset forfeiture processes to be kickstarted to recover all monies which were allegedly embezzled by the nine former employees of RCL Foods (a leading manufacturing food company) and trustees.

The trust was reportedly set up to assist farmers with funding, servicing machinery and irrigation schemes. Mahlangu emphasised that such brazen disloyal acts undermine economic recovery and the national effort to boost food security through the empowerment of emerging farmers.

“What is disheartening is the ease with which the alleged culprits constituted themselves into a trust while misrepresenting their credentials to pull off such a massive fraud and access funding when farmers are struggling to make ends meet and recover from the devastating impact of the covid pandemic”.

Mahlangu decried the motives for the establishment of the trust as well as the lack of transparency in its operation as a contributory factor to the alleged fraud.

The nine accused appeared in the Tonga Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday after they were arrested by the Hawks. They face charges of fraud and money laundering after they allegedly created fictitious invoices to claim R28 million for services that were never rendered.

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