Bogus Hawks official arrested for soliciting bribes from suspects
The Hawks on Friday arrested a 40-year-old man who has been allegedly masquerading as a Hawks investigator.
He will appear in the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of extortion and impersonating a police official.
His arrest follows a two-month probe by the Hawks, who have received numerous complaints from people claiming to have been approached by Hawks investigators with the ranks of colonels, brigadiers and major-generals.
The bogus Hawks official attempted to extort large sums of money in exchange for destroying case dockets or files that implicated them.
"Coincidentally, most of the victims who were approached are subjects of various investigations by the Hawks," said Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, adding that some of the people targeted have been mentioned at the ongoing state capture commission.
"I do not know how they get the people's contact details," he said.
Among the victims of the scam is a Joburg businessman who was contacted by a "Maj-Gen Moodley of the Hawks based in Bloemfontein, Free State".
Mulaudzi said following this information, the Hawks conducted an extensive investigation, which led to the arrest of a man from Honeydew, Johannesburg, on Friday.
"The modus operandi entails calling and sending text messages to unsuspecting subjects of Hawks investigations, thereby extorting varying sums of money under the pretence of destroying case files."
Mulaudzi said the victims were often taken in as the blackmailers used the Hawks insignia on their WhatsApp status and provided details of genuine bank accounts, into which the money should be deposited.
He added that other similar investigations were at an advanced stage and more arrests were expected soon.
Hawks head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya welcomed the arrest of the suspect. He condemned the alleged activities that continue to taint the image of the unit.
Lebeya urged members of the public not to fall prey to the scam and advised them to report such incidents to the appropriate authorities.