Fraud sting: Hawks arrest two Hawks

2011-10-11 00:00

MEMBERS of the SAPS Hawks elite unit swooped on their own last week — busting two allegedly corrupt warrant officers and a third police impersonator, dubbed “The Three Musketeers.”

Confidential sources within the Hawks revealed to The Witness that intense investigations by the Hawks’ anti-corruption unit have paid off, and the two officers, warrant officers Pat Pillay and Jason Reddy from the Hawks commercial fraud unit, were nabbed shortly after receiving a R50 000 pay-off to allegedly “quash” an investigation on Wednesday last week.

A third suspect, private investigator Ian Ault, was charged with impersonating a police officer.

The three appeared briefly at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday where the state opposed bail.

The officers and Ault would allegedly approach individuals being investigated in matters where the state had a weak case, and knowing that the case was likely be dropped anyway, ask for a bribe to halt the investigation.

The Hawks suspects on Wednesday met with a businessman at Pick n Pay in Durban North, who was accused by the three of being corrupt.

They asked for R50 000 “to make the docket disappear”.

Members of the anti-corruption unit were hot on their trail and proceeded with a sting operation.

A source said after the three received the money, Pillay allegedly stopped to pay R3 000 from the bribe money toward his lights and water account.

“We subsequently handcuffed all three of the suspects, who did not resist arrest,” said the source.

A Mercedes Benz ML320, belonging to Ault, was confiscated by the Asset Forfeiture Unit pending the outcome of the investigation.

The sources said more arrests are imminent and “The Three Musketeers” are being investigated for other cases of extortion.

A witness revealed that the three approached his sister at her house last week, saying that they had a warrant to conduct a search and seizure on her home.

“Armed with 9 mm handguns, the three came to our house and confiscated various documents. They returned an hour later to say that their investigation was concluded and they arrested my sister,” said Starling Chetty.

Chetty’s sister — who is suffering from leukaemia — was apparently part of a fraud syndicate where she was expected to tout for business, selling written-off cars to the public, in the business of the man who helped the Hawks nab the three.

“The three suspects were hoping she would die while in police custody due to her severe sickness, and the truth would disappear with her,” he said.

She has subsequently been released.

Colonel Clarence Jones, who heads the Hawks’ anti-fraud unit, said the Hawks are tasked with elite and high- profile matters and if their own members are implicated in crime, it is an indictment on their mandate.

“We are intent on keeping our own house clean as well.

“We are usually mandated with matters involving over R5 million in mainly government departments, but this bust was exceptional,” he said.

Jones urged members of the public who have been approached by “The Three Musketeers” to come forward with information by calling 031 334 5000.

National Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela confirmed the incident.

• rowan.sewchurran@witness.co.za

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