Eighteen suspects have been arrested in connection with South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) disability grant corruption in Khobo village outside Tzaneen, Limpopo.
The number of suspects arrested follows the arrest of six more suspects, aged between 33 and 55 on Tuesday.
The suspects were arrested during the continuous multi-disciplinary takedown operation comprising the Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation, Tzaneen SAPS First Responders, Crime Intelligence and SASSA officials.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the first 12 suspects, including three Nkowankowa SASSA officials, one intermediary and eight ineligible beneficiaries were arrested on Monday when the takedown operation kick-started.
“It is alleged that between the period 2018 and 2019, the South African Social Security Agency officials colluded with an intermediary to recruit ineligible people in Tzaneen area to register for disability grant at a fee, and as a result the state suffered a loss of over R300 000. All the suspects will appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday to face fraud and corruption charges,” Maluleke said.
Maluleke said that the operation to search for other outstanding suspects continues.
SASSA Limpopo Regional Executive Manager, Zodwa Mvulane welcomed the arrest of the suspects, warning that SASSA have zero tolerance to fraud and corruption.
Mvulane said that the agency is currently working to eliminate fraud and corruption linked to disability grants.
Bogus Hawks member
Meanwhile, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has cautioned the public about a bogus Hawks member who is busy extorting money from the families of the arrested people.
This is after the bogus Hawks member claiming to be Colonel Monyela allegedly contacted the families of some of the arrested persons and demanded money in order to give them bail.
Maluleke said the victims allegedly paid over R40 000.
“As the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, we want to put the record straight that our members are not allowed to call the families of the accused persons and demand money in any way.
“If you can be called by someone claiming to be from the Hawks and demand money, know that you are about to be scammed. You are kindly advised to call the nearest police station,” Maluleke said.