The Hawks’ persistence to apprehend the Temporary Employer/ Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) funds fraudsters led to the arrest of a total of 16 suspects in the early hours of Sunday.
Warrant Officer Bonnie Nxumalo said the suspects, aged between 23 and 57, were arrested in Gauteng and North West provinces respectively during an operation by the team of Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation (SCCI) based in North West.
The operation was in conjunction with their counterparts in the Hawks’ Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS) and Hawks’ Priority Crime Specialised Investigation (PCSI). They were assisted by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“It is alleged that in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, three sole directors of different dormant entities applied for TERS funds from the Department of Employment and Labour for 47, 133 and 141 supposed employees,” said Nxumalo.
She said the department paid the funds to companies’ bank accounts.
“The funds were allegedly transferred to certain individuals for personal enrichment. The department suffered a total loss of more than R1.4 million due to siphoning activities. The Hawks investigated the matters and warrants of arrests were issued,” she said.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Mahikeng District Court on Monday, 28 November. They will face fraud charges.