Hawks raid homes of 15 eThekwini officials and service providers
Members of the Hawks and other units combating corruption on Tuesday raided the homes of 15 eThekwini officials and service providers who may have had a hand in corruption and fraud to the tune of R700m.
Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to TimesLIVE that the raids - which included the Hawks' digital forensic laboratory and priority crime specialised investigation unit, Saps' crime scene management and the national intervention unit - formed part of ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption in the eThekwini water and sanitation department.
“We have raided 15 addresses, all of which are private residences within Durban and surrounding areas that belong to employees of the municipality and service providers linked to the municipality,” he said.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday afternoon, Hangwani said a simultaneous search and seizure operation was conducted at 15 of 18 properties in Durban and surrounding areas.
"The properties searched were of various officials from eThekwini municipality water and sanitation unit and service providers as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged fraud, corruption and money laundering."
In June, the national clean audit task team of the Hawks discovered that R200m had allegedly been siphoned from the municipality. It has now been determined that a further R500m has allegedly been embezzled from the department.
"It is alleged the R700m are proceeds of crime derived from service providers who were supposed to be rendering services for the water and sanitation unit and claimed to have provided such services whilst they were not carried out," said Hangwani.
"Misrepresentations were allegedly made to the municipality and in some instances no authorised signatures, as per requirement for approval, were endorsed on the invoices."
Hangwani said despite the alleged falsification of documents, payments were approved and significant amounts of money were allegedly channeled to officials for their own benefit.
"During the operation, various items - including a number of laptops, desktops, hard drives, cellphones, bank cards from different banks, company details, invoices and company registration documents - were seized for analysis.
"No arrests have been made as yet as investigations are still continuing."
This article and headline has been updated to reflect that 15 homes were raided and not 18, as previously stated by the Hawks.