Eastern Cape police have uncovered a land theft syndicate illegally selling plots on government farms near the East London Airport.
Five suspects – aged between 38 and 62 – were arrested on Wednesday following a week-long covert police investigation.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said they had allegedly been selling plots on farms belonging to the Department of Public Works for R15,000 in 2020.
The suspects later increased the price to R20,000 in January.
Kinana said involved in the intelligence-led operation was the Crime Intelligence Coastal police, Commercial Crimes detectives, Public Works and Infrastructure Investigation Section and Asset Forfeiture unit of the Hawks, National Intelligence Unit and Visible Policing officers.
The suspects are expected to appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Friday and will be charged with fraud.
Kinana said: “During the operation, an undisclosed amount of money was recovered, including two vehicles believed to have been used by the suspects during the commission of the crimes.
“All the suspects will be charged for fraud and other charges may be added as the investigation progresses.”
“According to the information, this group of suspects was identified selling plots illegally to people. Reports suggest that the group were selling theses plots for R15,000 each up to the 31st December 2020 and increased to R20,000 per plot from January 2021.
“From 20 January to 27 January covert police observations and investigations ensued, which resulted to the arrest of the suspects on Wednesday.”