5 suspects arrested in connection with R5 million Covid-19 alleged fraud
PRETORIA - Five suspects, two women and three men, aged between 25 and 68, were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning in an operation carried out by the Gauteng Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks, serious commercial crimes unit, the Hawks said.
"This is following an intensive investigation into a case registered at Brooklyn SAPS [South African Police Service] relating to the Unemployment Insurance Fund Covid-19 [temporary employer/employees relief scheme (Ters) benefit]," Gauteng Hawks spokesman Colonel Katlego Mogale said in a statement
The suspects were traced to various residences in Shoshanguve, Atteridgeville, and Mamelodi in Pretoria. Five vehicles, including a Range Rover Evoque, were recovered from the scenes of the arrests, as well as other items suspected "to have been bought with the monies which weren't meant for the suspects", Mogale said.
The national head of the Hawks Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya applauded the officers for the arrests and encouraged that due diligence be conducted to ensure that those who "defraud the nation were dealt with in the fullest might of the law".
The suspects would appear in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud, theft, and money laundering on Monday, Mogale said.
Those arrested cannot be named until they have appeared in court. The case reportedly involves R5.7 million in UIF funds intended for 1,400 workers impacted by the Covid-19 national lockdown. The money was allegedly fraudulently paid into the bank account of one worker.
The money was then rapidly disbursed to friends and business associates of the recipient over the course of five days. The Asset Forfeiture unit (AFU) and the UIF investigated the matter and 28 bank accounts had subsequently been frozen in connection with the fraudulent transaction.