Hawks nab 700 in 2022/2023 last quarter

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The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known as the Hawks, has made at least 701 arrests with 284 accused people convicted and sentenced during the last quarter of 2022/2023.

National Head for the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, released the figures during a media briefing on successes and high-profile cases investigated during the fourth quarter, held in Pretoria on Thursday 15 June.

Among the cases investigated, included Eskom fraud, COVID-19 Relief Fund fraud, Cash-In-Transit (CIT), murder of police officials, fraud and corruption relating to Immigration Act, rhino poaching, and dealing in cocaine.

Lebeya highlighted 32 cases, which represent 3% of the 985 successes, and these include 19 cases for convictions and 13 for arrest.

“In the 19 cases for convictions, 116 persons have been convicted while in 13 arrest cases, 39 suspects have been arrested. These 39 suspects are now added to their co-accused on the court roll which makes 75 accused persons in these 13 cases that makes an average of 6 accused per case,” Lebeya explained.

Lebeya highlighted the arrest of suspects in connection with R2.6 million Eskom fraud in Mpumalanga, where Eskom employees, Nwabisa Ngxola and Cinderella Moropane colluded with sole Director of Chimanzi Investments, Micheal Chimanzi (56), and submitted fraudulent invoices to Eskom for services which were never rendered during November 2013.

He said the arrest was effected in 2018 and Chimanzi was found guilty on 1 March 2023, and sentenced by the Nelspruit Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for fraud, theft and money laundering.

“During the sentencing, the court took into consideration that Chimanzi already spent four years in custody. Furthermore, the accused showed remorse and pleaded guilty from the beginning without wasting State resources. Chimanzi, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment wholly suspended for 5 years.

“The trial of Nwabisa Ngxola and Cinderella Moropane, who pleaded not guilty, was separated from that of Chimanzi. The case against the two was postponed to 2 May 2023 for sentencing, and their bail was extended. Ngxola has been sentenced to 24 years imprisonment on 103 counts, while the case of Moropane is postponed to 29 June 2023 for sentencing,” Lebeya said.

Lebeya also reported that 38 suspects were arrested by the DPCI for Cash-In-Transit (CIT) while four were convicted and sentenced during this quarter.

A total of 13 suspects were also arrested by the DPCI for murder of police officials while six were convicted and sentenced to share 10 life imprisonment terms.

Lebeya said the DPCI continues to jointly respond to those who committed crimes relating to the Covid-19 Relief Fund as coordinated at the Fusion Center, which is housed at the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC).

“As at the end of May 2023, 194 suspects were brought to book. Of these, 49 out of 52 accused were convicted which represents 94% conviction rate,” Lebeya said.

Lebeya further highlighted the sentencing of a Chinese national, Shiuhau Chen (57), who was found guilty on three counts of illegal dealing in rhino horns and contravening the Immigration Act after appearing at the Kempton Park Regional Court on 20 January 2023.

“He was sentenced on 4 April 2023 to R500 000 or five years imprisonment for dealing in rhino horns. His vehicle VW Tiguan valued to R400 000 was forfeited to the state.

“He was further sentenced to two years without option of fine for two counts of contravention of Immigration Act. The court also ordered that he must be deported to China after serving his sentence….crime does not pay,” Lebeya reported.

A total of 16 people were also arrested in Eastern Cape and Western Cape for submission of fraudulent medical documents to apply for disability grants at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices in Malmesbury.

The suspects were assisted by suspect within and outside SASSA, leading to an agency losing more than R1.8 million.

Fifteen suspects were arrested and released on R1000 bail, while SASSA official, Patricia Smallpox, was arrested and appeared at Malmesbury Magistrate Court on the 13 April 2023 where she was released on R50 000-00 bail. The case is postponed to the 14 August 2023 for further investigation.