Hawks and private investigator implicated in R4-million fraud case

A Hawks intelligence detective and a private investigator are the suspects in an allegedly unlawful and fraudulent covert operation that has cost Macadamia South Africa (SAMAC) at least

R4-million. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit accompanied SAMAC representatives to the Nelspruit Police Station today where corruption, fraud and theft cases were opened against the pair. The criminal complaint also identifies two senior officers in the Hawks as possible suspects for their alleged failure to take action when they were made aware of the alleged unlawful activity. The alleged offences date back to 2016.

SAMAC alleges that between 2016 and 2020, the private investigator together with the Hawks detective created the impression that they were lawfully conducting a Hawks covert operation to identify, arrest and prosecute members of a syndicate trading in stolen macadamias.

SAMAC carried the costs of this operation through the private investigator, which they were told was in the furtherance of a legitimate undercover operation. Further, it is alleged that the private investigator and Hawks detective invoiced the organisation for travel expenses and even attending meetings. SAMAC alleges that most of the items it purchased are unaccounted for.

SAMAC approached the Private Prosecution Unit for help when the repeated promises made by the two suspects of imminent arrests came to nought. No proof has been provided and it is alleged that the covert operation was not authorised by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), as required by law; that Hawks management was not aware of the covert operation; nor that the project was funded by SAMAC.

In October 2021, the Unit met with Hawks management together with the detective and a representative from the NPA, where all these aspects were discussed.

Following that meeting, Adv. Gerrie Nel addressed a letter to one of the brigadiers. “Our client went the extra mile to support the Hawks to have the scourge of organised syndicated crime activities within the macadamia nut industry exposed, investigated and prosecuted, only to be dashed by the revelations of the meeting.

“We now remain more convinced of the veracity of our concerns, which, if proficiently investigated, we believe may prove that our clients are the victims of a multi-million rand misrepresentation under the ostentatious guise of the ‘cloak and dagger’ environment of law enforcement itself.  We trust your office will champion its responsibility to combat, investigate and prevent priority crimes such as serious organised commercial crimes and serious corruption,” he said.

Following the meeting, the Hawks Anti-Corruption Unit approached the Private Prosecution Unit for an affidavit, but deliberately and persistently withheld information that would empower SAMAC to properly formulate their criminal complaint.

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the unit, says there is ample evidence to support the case against the Hawks detective and the private investigator. “We strongly suspect that the pair defrauded SAMAC by filing false claims for reimbursement of investigation services whilst knowing full well that the detective was a serving policeman. He was not entitled to payment from the private sector for performing policing duties.  We further suspect the relationship between the private investigator and the SAPS in these investigations establishes a strong suspicion of corrupt activities, and that the private investigator allegedly defrauded SAMAC to finance the relationship. 

“The conduct of the senior officers has raised serious questions about Hawks management. They may have conducted themselves in a manner equivalent to defeating the ends of justice and may now be considered accomplices to the alleged offences. We want the police to investigate this aspect. The system has truly failed when the people tasked with investigating serious and organised crime are themselves engaging in such activity, seemingly with the blessing of their commanders,” says Bateman.

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