Four members of the Housing Development Agency’s (HDA) bid evaluation committee have been arrested on fraud charges in connection with the Talana “Covid-19 shack settlement” scandal.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said they were arrested in Johannesburg on Friday and face charges of fraud to the tune of R2.4 million in connection with the Talana temporary housing unit project outside Tzaneen in Limpopo.
On Thursday, the Hawks arrested Raymond Maoto, a project manager at the HDA, and Constance Mohlala, director of the Aventino Group CC company in Polokwane.
The housing units came into the spotlight when Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha was heavily criticised and embarrassed when he handed over more than 40 temporary Covid-19 tin shelters in August.
At the time, News24 reported that the shelters were described as “expensive shacks”.
At the peak of the pandemic, the National Department of Human Settlements and Water Affairs had directed that temporary shelters be built for vulnerable people living in inhumane conditions.
The shelters were built in Talana at a cost of R64 000 each and Mathabatha cut a ribbon at the then-much celebrated event.
News24 reported that the multi-million-rand project was later described by authorities as sub-standard and caused a countrywide outcry.
According to Maluleke, the four HDA members allegedly vouched for Aventino Group CC to construct the housing units without thoroughly checking the validity of the documents submitted.
Maluleke said it was further alleged that the temporary housing units did not adhere to the design and specifications.
The four are expected to appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Monday. Maoto and Mohlala are expected back in court on Tuesday to apply for bail.