How SAPS is tracking 'kingpins who masquerade as hard-working South Africans': Mbalula
Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula hailed the Organised Crime Threats Assessment mechanism as a success after nine suspects in a tax fraud syndicate were arrested on Thursday.
The minister told reporters in Pretoria on Friday that Hawks teams arrested the nine suspects at their upmarket homes in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal during search and seizure operations at 12 locations.
He said the suspects were arrested as a result of intelligence-led policing under the Octa intervention mechanism with assistance from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks) and the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
“Yesterday a multidisciplinary team‚ consisting of Hawks‚ Sars‚ criminal intelligence conducted a takedown operation. Nine members of a syndicate suspected of operating a large scale VAT fraud scam‚ with a potential loss to the fiscus of more than R90 million‚” said Mbalula.
Mbalula said the police would have to up their game in the fight against organised crime and that the Octa mechanism would allow units aimed at fighting white collar crimes to make significant inroads.
“SA cannot live side by side with syndicates. We are tracking and dealing with the source of crime and fight the kingpins who drive luxury cars and masquerade as hard-working South Africans‚” he said.
Sars commissioner Tom Moyane said the modus operandi of the tax fraud allegedly perpetrated by the syndicate took the revenue service some time to detect‚ like any other investigation. “When criminal investigation came in to probe fake companies‚ fake VAT numbers‚ fake rebates and the like‚ we became suspicious of the number of companies claiming these tax refunds‚” said Moyane.
Acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata said four suspects were arrested in Pretoria and the other five were arrested in Durban. “They appeared in court yesterday and are out on bail ranging between R20‚000 and R100‚000. Investigations are ongoing and if there is a need for further arrests‚ they will be effected under procedure and announced in due time‚” said Matakata.
Questions emerged about corruption amongst the police‚ with reporters asking whether former crime intelligence officer Morris “Captain KGB” Tshabalala was in the employ of the police and drawing a salary whilst in jail.
National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole maintained that despite reports to the contrary‚ Tshabalala was not an employee of the police whilst in jail.
“He was not employed by the Saps. His employ was terminated in 2013 from Saps. That was around the time he was arrested‚” said Sitole.