The arrests were made in connection with the murder case of Thembinkosi Dlamini, a 37-year-old KwaZulu-Natal Social Development branch manager, who was shot dead in his office in Ngwelezane in June 2008.
Dlamini was assigned to conduct an internal investigation within the department following suspicions of fraud and corruption. A group of armed men charged into his office and shot and killed Dlamini instantly.
At the time, the Durban Organised Crime Unit arrested six suspects, who were later convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 by the Mtunzini High Court.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulauzdi said the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation took an interest after the sentencing in 2013 and launched an investigation into the alleged fraud and corruption at the department.
“On Tuesday, the Hawks and Empangeni Crime Prevention members swooped on the area and arrested five South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) officials, a doctor and a runner,” said Mulaudzi.
Gabriel Ndlovu (54), Mfaniseni Ngcobo (40), Ntobeko Mlaba (51), Balungile Mkhize-Mdletshe (37), Jeniffer Gumede (47), Thembelani Nyawose (40) and Beatrice Shandu (47) briefly appeared at the Empangeni Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
All seven suspects were remanded in custody and will appear again at the same court on 26 and 27 June 2018, where they will apply for bail.
It is alleged that the seven conspired and defrauded SASSA of about R25 million between 2005 and 2008 through fraudulent grants.
Three of the seven accused also stand accused of having allegedly participated in the murder of Dlamini.
The National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, has commended the members who worked around the clock to make a breakthrough in this case.
“This demonstrates our zeal to deal with the killing of innocent people and theft of government funds. We will not rest until all suspects involved are arrested and face the full might of the law,” said Lebeya.
Rattling drug dealers
In a separate incident, the Hawks South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB) and Crime Intelligence operations have resulted in the seizure of 29kg of heroin worth more than R6 million.
The drug bust, which was effected on Tuesday, led to the arrest of three suspects aged between 41 and 53.
This follows a long investigation which started in 2017, targeting drug traffickers in the Gauteng area.
“An undercover operation was set up on Tuesday this week where the target agreed to supply heroin. The target bought 29kg of heroin and after the purchase, the dealer and his driver were immediately arrested,” Mulauzdi said.
The arrested suspects appeared at the Randburg Regional Court on Thursday and they have been remanded in custody until their next appearance on 28 June 2018.
Lebeya praised the collaboration between the police agencies.
“We are prioritising dealing with major drug kingpins and we are very excited by this outstanding success,” said Lebeya.