Saai lays charges after excessive GEPF transaction

Saai – an organisation that protects the interests of family farmers – laid charges on behalf of one of its members at the Brooklyn Police Station today after the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) paid R586,5 million for a 60% share in a 1 028 hectare portion of farmland.

The member of Saai, Jaco Engelbrecht, is a part-time farmer and teacher from Koffiefontein who contributes to the GEPF every month. Saai also gave the case number to the Hawks’ Serious Crimes Unit.

Saai became aware of the transaction after an advertisement was published in the 31 January 2020 edition of Landbouweekblad. It was initially advertised that farms IP (564) with 481 hectares and Palmietfontein (403) with 547 hectares had both been purchased by the GEPF. However, the title deed indicates that the GEPF only bought 60% of portion 97 of Palmietfontein (403) for the amount of R586.5 million.

Motswala City sold portion 97, measuring 547 hectares, for about R10 million to Isago@N12 Development Pty Ltd in 2007. The city’s 2016/2017 valuation roll indicates that the property had been valuated for R16,55 million at that stage. IP (564) was bought in 2007 for R8,75 million in the same transaction and the city’s 2018/2019 valuation of the property was R8,97 million.

According to the title deed, 60% of both farms were sold to the GEPF as agricultural land for an amount of approximately R586,5 million.

“There is a 2 198% price difference between the valuation price and the price the GEPF paid to purchase the property for government employees. It is unoccupied agricultural land that was bought with the intention of further development. The GEPF is an entity that is supposed to manage government employees’ pension funds in an honest and responsible way. To pay such an enormous escalation for the transaction, is neither honest nor responsible,” believes Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai.

“Isago Holdings Pty Ltd received a 40% share of the portion 97 development for an amount of nil rand. With the GEPF transaction, the value of their shares now stands at a total of R391 million,” adds Rossouw.