The Hawks have swooped on six more suspects in connection with a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) disability grant corruption case and in a new twist to the saga police have warned of a man impersonating a policeman to extort “bail” money from the suspects’ families in Limpopo.

SAPS spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the Hawks had arrested the suspects, who are aged between 33 and 54, in Khobo village near Tzaneen 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,” 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 kickstarted,” he said.

“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 a disability grant at a fee and as a result the state suffered a loss of over R300 000.”

The latest arrests brings the total number of nabbed suspects to 18.

All of the suspects are expected to appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday to face fraud and corruption charges.

“The operation to search for other outstanding suspects continues,” Maluleke  said.

Maluleke added that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in the province would like to warn the public about a bogus Hawks member who is extorting money from the families of  the arrested individuals. 

“This came after this 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. The victims allegedly paid over R40 000,” Maluleke said.

“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,” he said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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