The properties, owned by the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) were irregularly or fraudulently transferred to private companies with what looks like the involvement of government or municipal officials. A senior official is alleged to have been involved in what saw the properties being hurriedly transferred despite their having undated powers of attorney and municipal clearance certificates. Some of the normal deeds office examination processes were completely bypassed.
Immediate questions which arise from this incident are:
- What impact could this property fraud have on confidence in the property ownership system as administered via the Deeds Office, i.e. presumably it undermines the confidence of property owners in the system?
- Also, what is the possible impact on financial institutions who fund property transactions and the fixed property is used as security for the repayment of the loan to fund the transaction?
- It appears that normal procedures at the Deeds Office were bypassed and the transfers registered despite the documentation not being in order. What should the Deeds Office therefore be doing to restore faith in the system and to address the problems that have surfaced because of these fraudulent registrations?