Landbank: Saai establishes investigation fund

Allegations about irregularities, iniquity and misuse of liquidations to collect outstanding debts at Landbank and other agricultural businesses from farmers, call for an independent investigation.

During Saai’s representative day in Pretoria, the organisation established an investigation fund to expose the origin of the allegations and the impact of possible irregularities in the presence of influential farmers from all over South Africa.

Saai appealed to Landbank and agricultural businesses to cooperate in the investigation. Landbank should welcome such an independent investigation as it could limit possible damage to its reputation if it confirms Landbank’s statement that an online investigation showed no irregularities or abuse.

To kick off the fund, Meyer le Roux of Buffelsfontein Brandewyn presented the first R10 000 cheque to Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai, as part of the #diebuffelsgeeterug campaign. Saai hopes that agricultural businesses and banks will also contribute to the fund. Some farmers have already pledged donations.

Allegations of irregularities resulted from Landbank’s failure to comply with the requirements of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) after Landbank refused to respond to questions from Saai. Saai inquired about Landbank’s mandate and procedures for liquidating hundreds of farmers for debts worth only a fraction of the value of their assets. Landbank also questions the actions and behaviour of Landbank’s agents on farms and the cooperation between officials, lawyers, liquidators, auctioneers and cadres.

Since Saai objected to the extent, procedures and brutality of Landbank’s liquidation of farmers (who are not insolvent) two weeks ago, Landbank has consistently denied any irregularities or extraordinary actions on its part. However, Landbank did not stop its aggressive liquidation of farmers, and hundreds of farmers testified that they were victims of this campaign.

Saai challenges Landbank to also contribute to the fund itself to confirm the bank’s commitment to clean administration and ethical norms in its business with farmers.