A sting operation by Limpopo Hawks resulted in the arrest of three Police officers attached to the Provincial Police Organised Crime Unit as well as an official of the Department of Home Affairs facing charges of fraud and corruption in separate cases in the city on Friday.
Officers Lucas Letlotlo Ledwaba (42), Kwena Humphrey Hlaka (36) and Luyanda Rise Ringani (36) appeared in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice. They were granted R500 bail each and the matter was postponed to 31 January for further investigations, according to Limpopo Hawks Spokesperson Matimba Maluleke.
He added that the Home Affairs official, Marema Peter Mogale (48) who also faces charges of corruption appeared simultaneously in the same court and was granted bail of R1 000. His case will also be heard again on 31 January.
With regards to the case against the Police officers, Maluleke indicated that during March this year the officers allegedly found trucks loaded with suspected stolen chrome in Burgersfort. Instead of effecting an arrest the officers reportedly demanded a R60 000 bribe from the drivers in order to release the trucks, according to Maluleke.
It is further reported that the agreement was made to pay the bribe money at a later stage. When the matter was brought under the attention of the Hawks, investigations revealed that the money was indeed paid into one of the suspect’s bank account which led to their arrest at the Provincial Police offices in Schoeman Street.
In a separate matter on the same day Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation Team arrested a Home Affairs official for allegedly selling birth certificates to foreign nationals.
Maluleke indicated that Mogale is employed as an immigration officer at Home Affairs in Polokwane and was reportedly selling birth certificates to foreign nationals for R6 000 each.
A trap was set and Mogale allegedly on numerous occasions sold birth certificates to an undercover cop.
Maluleke said that investigations to establish whether the suspect is involved in other fraud and corrupt activities are underway and that more arrests are imminent.
In another matter two days prior to the arrests two suspects were arrested at a local hotel after trying to bribe a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) member with R300 000 to amend certain parts of a report recommending that their company be charged criminally.
National Hawks Spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi indicated that the arrests were secured in collaboration with the Hawks and SIU last Wednesday.
The finding in the report was that the company should pay back R3 million and face criminal charges for a tender that was not serviced, yet they submitted documents to the Mopani District Municipality for payments.
The two suspects were arrested by Hawks serious corruption unit members after they reportedly bribed an SIU investigator to exclude the portion of the report that recommended that their company be charged criminally and further asked to reduce the amount to be paid back.
They were arrested immediately after the R300 000 was handed to the investigator.
The two suspects were expected to appear in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Friday. Mulaudzi could not provide any update at the time of going to print.
Story/photos: RC Myburgh