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A senior government official who has been identified as ANC MP and former Security Minister Bongani Bongo is among 11 suspects arrested today in connection with dubious land deals amounting to almost R124 million.

While the Hawks said in its original statement that there were 11 suspects, including an unnamed senior official, they later confirmed to SAFM that he was Bongo, who was appointed State Security minister by Jacob Zuma in 2017 but then relieved of his post in 2018. Bongo earlier today chaired a virtual parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs.

Bongo is also facing corruption charges in Cape Town for allegedly trying to bribe the evidence leader in parliament’s inquiry into state capture.

“It is alleged that during February 2012, a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa Municipality, which allegedly bought a Rietspruit farm in Ermelo worth R11 million, yet sold for about R36.4 million in 2011, to develop a township while the municipality owned a farm that could have been utilised for the same purpose,” said the Hawks in a statement.

The investigation was conducted by a multi-agency investigation that included the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority.

The Hawks said another whistle-blower alerted the investigators to two other deals involving two farms – a 70-hectare Malelane farm worth R44 million, which was allegedly sold to the municipality at R50 million in 2011, and a 74.2 hectare Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16 million, apparently sold for R37.5 million.

“All these three farms’ actual combined value was approximately R70 million but through alleged collusion by the arrested suspects, the Mpumalanga of Human Settlements Department suffered a total loss of just under R124.million,” said the Hawks.

It is alleged that the money was channelled through five companies.

An intricate paper trail was created including applications by the municipalities, valuation reports and internal correspondence in order to justify the deals. The 11 are expected to appear in Nelspruit Magistrates Court tomorrow.