A young man who caused a stir between the government and thousands of unemployed people said he had authored a hoax e-mail promising jobs because he was "bored".
Simiso Ntobela, 27, an assistant director at the Department of Public Service and Administration, distibuted the advert through his work e-mail address last week.
"It was just a joke. I do not belong to some Nigerian syndicate that is running a scam," said Ntobela.
The advert spread extensively among desperate job-seekers who faxed application forms to a fake number. In the advert he inserted the letterhead of the Local Government Sector Education Training Authority (LGSETA).
The training authority received calls from unemployed people enquiring about the possibility of employment.
Spokesman for the LGSETA Josephine Thekiso told Sowetan that they had opened a case of fraud against Ntobela.
"We had nothing to do with the advert. Some callers even claimed to have paid money to people to get jobs. We are a skills development centre and do not employ people," she said
The advert, in part, reads: "The Johannesburg, eThekwini, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni and Tswane metro police departments are embarking on a mission to recruit and train 9000 new metro police officers every year until 2010. The plan is to ensure that there are 18000 officers by 2010.
"We are calling individuals from the metro, coloured and Indian communities who have passion to become metro officers to apply." The advert promised to pay those accepted between R5000 and R8600.
"Had I known that what I thought was a joke would lead to this, I would not have pressed the sent button of the computer," Ntobela said.
He said he did not intend to gain financially from the "game" he was playing. "The fax number on the advertisement is nonexistent. I was just exploiting the fact that people are unemployed and would respond.
"I am very sorry. I admit that this was a very stupid joke," Ntobela added.