Despite the police’s soft approach to crime, Hawkes’s Directorate for Major Crime Investigation (DPCI) on Tuesday held 45 high-profile cases under investigation or prosecution.
At least 22,477 cases worth R1.5 trillion are being investigated and 4,447 convictions have been handed down in the past four years, said lawyer Godfrey Lebeya, a DPCI lieutenant-general.
Hawkmom on Phala Phala
Notably absent from the presentation was any mention of the theft of the $4 million (about 68 million rand) the president claimed – or just $600,000 (just over 10 million rand), according to News24. Cyril Ramaphosathe Phala Phala game farm, and the apparently irregular means used to track down the alleged thieves and the money.
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There was also no mention of what progress had been made in ending illegal mining activities.
Lebeya explained these lacunae with brevity and the fact that these cases are really being investigated.
“We have more than 22,000 cases, so I didn’t list them all,” he said.
“The complainant [in the Phala Phala case] made a statement, and we entered 41 statements into the case. I will not delve into the minutiae of the courts.”
Asked why no known person had been arrested in connection with the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, Lebeya said 43 arrests had been made, some this week alone, and more were expected a lot
Good luck to the Hawks
Some of the high-profile successes noted by DPCI include:
- Interception of 706 bricks of cocaine worth R706 million in the Eastern Cape. In another incident, 805kg of cocaine, worth R400 million, was found in a boat being towed along the N1 in Gauteng.
- 27 arrests in connection with 188 charges related to VBS Bank, a failed bank that lost approximately 1.6 billion rand, owned by approximately 20 municipalities. The investigation collected more than 2,391 statements, reports DCPI. The case will be heard later this year.
- 12 suspects, including former Member of Parliament lawyer Bongani Bong, were arrested in October 2020 on fraud and corruption charges in connection with fraudulent land deals worth almost 124 million rand. In Mpumalanga, farms are believed to have been bought and sold at great profit. This case will be transferred to a pre-trial hearing later this year.
- Arrest of former JB Marks executive mayor Kgotso Moses Khumalo and director Cyril Hendry in 2020 on charges of fraud involving R5 million that was meant for the municipality but ended up in private pockets.
- 22 suspects have been charged with fraud, corruption and racketeering in connection with the eThekwini (Durban) solid waste scandal, which is estimated to be worth R208 million. Former mayor Zandile Gumede is among the accused.
- 373 suspects have been arrested since 2018 for crimes involving endangered species, including abalone, rhino horn, elephant tusks, lion and lizard bones.
- 26 arrests have been made in connection with the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which caused billions of rand in damage to infrastructure and businesses. The case will be heard in the Durban Magistrates Court later this week.
- France Hlakudi, Abram Masanga, Hudson Kgamoeswana and seven others were arrested in 2019 on charges of fraud and corruption at Eskom’s Kusile power station project. It is alleged that the tender was fraudulently awarded to Tubular Construction for services originally awarded to Alstom S&E Africa.
- Former Group Five CEO Mike Lomas is expected to be extradited from the UK in connection with the above case, which returns to court on November 4.
- Seven suspects, including Angelo Agrisi and a former correctional services commissioner, were arrested in 2019 on charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud in connection with four tenders allegedly irregularly awarded to Bosasa facilities management company.
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DPCI has a staff strength of 23,672 and is currently advertising for another 200 vacancies.
Since 2018, the unit has arrested 12,157 suspects and issued 4,447 convictions, although the number of allegations investigated was much higher.
In one case alone, two people were convicted of 487 VAT fraud cases totaling 110 million rand, potentially reaching 440 million rand.
They were found guilty and sentenced to 17 and 16 years in prison, respectively
“The DPCI noted that corruption is one of the biggest threats in South Africa,” Lebeya said.
“It also allows the flow of illicit funds, which is the reason that informs the Directorate to monitor the implementation of money laundering allegations initiated as part of criminal investigations.
In order to strengthen the fight against corruption, the work of the Anti-Corruption Task Force (ACTT) and the Task Force have been intensified to speed up criminal investigations, prosecutions and asset recovery.”
The task force has established a system of prioritization of crimes in the Top-100, Top-33 and Top-10 categories.
It has the power to confiscate and recover assets derived from illegal activities. The results of this new system have been “overwhelming,” Lebeya said, with 554 arrests and 142 convictions.
One of these is an arms dealing case which will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in October.
Several of the cases covered by Lebeya involved fraud in tenders for personal protective equipment, misuse of funds and fraud in municipalities, and the killing of several police officers.