Hawks boss to ensure country complies with FATF after greylisting

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National Hawks head, Lieutenant General Advocate Godfrey Lebeya, says the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) will begin to focus its attention on ensuring that the country deals with compliance obligations raised by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when it greylisted South Africa last month.

To achieve this, Lebeya said the Hawks will collaborate with other agencies both at the national and international levels.

The Lieutenant General made the commitment on Friday while delivering a public update on the Directorate’s operations in the third quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year.

This comes after South Africa was put on a greylist in February by the FATF for falling short of certain international standards for the combating of money laundering and other serious financial crimes.

The FATF is a global body that aims to tackle global money laundering and terrorist financing. South Africa has been a member of the FATF for the last 20 years due to its commitment to fighting these criminal activities both at home and across the world.

During this period, the Directorate’s various divisions made over 800 arrests.

Addressing media, Lebeya said: “The DPCI arrested at least 803 suspects that were successfully secured before the various courts across the country in the third quarter of this financial year.”

During this period, 229 accused persons were convicted and sentenced, with some getting life terms.

“These arrests maintain the number of accused persons on the court rolls at… 11 673. One thousand, nine hundred and thirty-six (1 936) cases that are under investigation have reached a decision stage and the teams from the DPCI and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are assessing them,” Lebeya said.

Police killings

Outlining some of the milestones, the Directorate says it is also cracking down on police killings.

Lebeya said the killing of police officers poses a threat to citizens, noting with disdain the killing of members.

“These police officers are on the frontline of the fight against criminality,” he stressed.

Lebeya said the directorate will continue to ensure that those who commit these “atrocious deeds” are brought to book.

He said while 26 police officials were killed in the third quarter, 22 suspects were on the other hand arrested and six were convicted and sentenced.

“Of these criminals, four were sentenced to life imprisonment.”

Cash-in-transit robbery

Lebeya also noted 57 incidents of cash-in-transit in the third quarter of 2022/2023, of which 21 arrests were effected, with three of those being killed in police and/or security company actions.

In addition, nine convictions were secured, with a combined sentence of six life sentences and five 581 years imprisonment.

Corruption

On corruption, Lebeya said it continues to surface as one of the biggest threats posed by criminals.

“It facilitates illicit financial flows, which enables money laundering to take place. Although the number of arrests is the lowest from the Serious Corruption Investigation component, it is in line with the number of cases reported.

“A number of other corruption cases are also appearing in the figures of Serious Commercial Crime Investigation.”

However, Lebeya said they made some strides in these cases that required a high level of meticulous investigation.

Truth and Reconciliation

The Directorate is also looking into the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigations.

The team, he said, received 146 cases for investigation, which are receiving attention.

Of these, four are in criminal court; eight cases are before the inquest court, 18 cases are pending decision, and eight cases have been finalised.

Illegal mining

On illegal mining, Lebeya touched on Case number 8, where he highlighted that they have arrested six members of an organised criminal group involved in illegal mining activities.

He said the arrest was a result of a project called “Gillette” registered by the DPCI in 2018, for the purpose of conducting an unconventional investigation.

“Evidential material to the value of R500 000 was seized. The suspects are alleged to be buying gold-bearing materials from the Zama Zamas, processing and selling them to the next level in the hierarchy.”

The multi-disciplinary team consisted of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation; the Gauteng division, working together with Head Office’s Forensic Services, Crime Intelligence, Explosives Unit, Gaubullet and the Department of Home Affairs. The team also recovered an unlicensed homemade firearm.