Covid-19 corruption: Hawks to make more arrests this week, 80 000 illegal payments yet to be probed

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Hawks boss Godfrey Lebeya.
Hawks boss Godfrey Lebeya.
  • While the Hawks have rounded up several suspects for their alleged involvement in Covid-19 tender corruption, the elite unit says there has been an influx of cases.
  • The Hawks are yet to investigate close to 80 000 identified illegal payments.
  • The unit’s head, General Godfrey Lebeya, told Parliament that the "collaborative" approach between the various law enforcement agencies had yielded positive results.

With another round of Covid-19 corruption arrests expected this week, the Hawks have seen an influx of cases with about 80 000 identified illegal payments the elite crime busting unit needs to investigate.

While the workload mounted, a "multi-disciplinary and collaborative" approach between the various law enforcement agencies had yielded positive results.

The Fusion Centre, established to deal with Covid-19 graft, had also prioritised cases identified to be heard in court.

This emerged as Hawks head, General Godfrey Lebeya, met with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) briefed Scopa on the progress made with investigations into Covid-19-related corruption.

READ | Hawks head makes it abundantly clear: 'We have never taken instructions from anyone'

Lebeya told MPs that the country could expect some "successes" as the Hawks made more Covid-19 corruption arrests this week.

He also said the Hawks had established teams in all provinces, including at the headquarters in Pretoria.

He said:

All teams are led by officers at a level of brigadier, comprising of all capabilities within the Hawks. A major-general from the Priority Crime Specialised Investigation has been appointed to oversee and monitor all investigations relating to the Covid-19 pandemic nationally, as well as to assist with any challenges that may arise from the investigations. These teams are working in collaboration with the NPA, as well as the SIU in the provinces.

The Hawks’ current case load includes 174 matters, with six criminal cases, already on the court roll.

Citing some of the six cases, Lebeya said an employee of an entity called CSG Resourcing had submitted a claim for UIF Temporary Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) funding for employees on their payroll.

The claim was lodged and, upon enquiry of the payment, it was noted that the amount of R5 688 802.20 had been diverted into a Capitec bank account.

Lebeya said the six accused were facing charges of fraud and money laundering and that the matter had been postponed to 16 November.

"The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) obtained a preservation order for five vehicles which were seized at the accused premises. They are currently in the process of lodging an application for final forfeiture, anticipated to be lodged by the end of October," he said.

In another matter, Lebeya said the director of the South African Nursing Student Fund had reported that he was contacted by the accused, who informed him that his NPO had received R50 million from the Department of Social Development.

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He said:

They directed him to meet with them to discuss the sharing of the funds. Investigations revealed that the director and his spouse’s names were fraudulently used to secure the funds. Due to a quick intervention, the department did not pay out the R50 million. Six accused are facing charges of fraud, extortion and intimidation, and the matter has been remanded until 1 December for further investigation.

Lebeya said they also followed information about an amount of R4.7 million, part of a UIF Relief Fund claim of an entity named Mega Bus, erroneously being transferred into a Capitec Bank account.

He said the recipient was a pensioned employee of the entity, who currently received pension benefits from the Department of Labour.

The accused, Moses Leso, paid back R4.1 million to the fund after spending R600 000.

He will appear in court later this month.

Lebeya also said that obtaining search and seizure warrants, undercover operations and determining witness statements were just some of the factors affecting "the timeline of cases".

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