'Hawks' bust ministers and CEOs
Some of former president Jacob Zuma's cabinet ministers and ex-CEOs of state-owned entities discovered through bogus Hawks officials that they were under investigation for corruption.
This was uncovered after they laid complaints with the Hawks that they were approached by supposed Hawks officials who demanded millions of rand in bribes to stop the investigations.
So cleverly thought out was the plan, that some of the ministers and executives shivered and allegedly agreed to meet up with the bogus Hawks officials.
This, according to Hawks insiders, was because the perpetrators were working with real officers and were privy to cases that were investigated by the Hawks at the time.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed the unit had received complaints and said they were being investigated. Mulaudzi also confirmed that some of the former ministers and senior executives were under investigation by the unit at the time they were targeted by the scamsters.
He said they had arrested some of the suspects.
Mulaudzi refused to reveal the names of the cabinet ministers targeted by the syndicate, saying "that remains confidential, it's an operational matter".
However, according to Hawks officers privy to the complaints, the ministers targeted included former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown, former state security minister Bongani Bongo and former energy minister David Mahlobo.
In state-owned entities, former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and ex Eskom CEOs Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko were contacted by the same bogus officers.
The Hawks officials said the bogus officers used the names of former acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata and even Mulaudzi when calling their victims.
Sunday World understands between R500000 and R2m was demanded from these high-profile figures.
Brown confirmed she had opened a case. "Yes I opened a case with Hawks. You should ask the Hawks how far the case is."
Mahlobo also confirmed registering a complaint with the Hawks, but said his had to do with a security threat.
"I have launched a different complaint and I'm still waiting for an update from the Hawks.
"It's very sensitive [and] I can't discuss it with you since it has to do with security threat."
Bongo denied that he had registered any complaint with the law enforcement officers.
Koko said the supposed Hawks officers demanded R500000 from him with a promise to squash an investigation against him in November last year. "The guy who called me said he was General Matakata and offered to help me with my cases."
Koko said he had reported the matter to the Hawks branch in Germiston where he asked their head why their members were demanding bribes from him.
"We then set an entrapment for them but it didn't work because they were able to suspect that something was wrong and they ran away."
Molefe also confirmed reporting the matter to the Hawks but said he saw it as a trap from a group of people who wanted to get him arrested for corruption.
"Yes there is such a case. In fact it happened two times. On both occasions it was reported to the Hawks," Molefe said.
"On both occasions, they stopped contact before we could meet to discuss the details of their demands."
Motsoeneng also confirmed the matter, saying the con artists demanded R600000 from him and when he did not take them seriously, they lowered the figure to R200000.
"Then I decided to report the matter to the Hawks to investigate," he said.
According to Hawks sources, they discovered that the syndicate was run by a number of inmates from Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria and they were allegedly working with police and some Hawk officers who assisted to carry out the plans outside prison.
It is believed that before their apprehension by the Hawks in a trap, the crooks had already solicited R20m in bribes from some of their victims.
But the officers working on the case said those who registered complaints with the unit denied ever paying any money to the bogus Hawks members.