Falke detective, private investigator suspected of fraud of R4 million

Henry

A Falcons detective and a private investigator are the suspects in an alleged illegal and fraudulent undercover operation that cost Macadamia South Africa (Samac) at least R4 million.

AfriForum’s private prosecution unit accompanied Samac representatives to the Nelspruit police station today where corruption, fraud and theft cases were opened against the two suspects. The criminal complaints also identify two senior officers in the Falcons as possible suspects for their alleged failure to act when they were made aware of the alleged illegal activity. The alleged offenses go back as far as 2016.

Samac claims that between 2016 and 2020, the private investigator in collaboration with the Falcons detective created the impression that they were legitimately carrying out an undercover operation of the Falcons to identify and arrest members of a syndicate dealing in stolen macadamias take and prosecute.

Samac bore the cost of this operation through the private investigator – they were told that this funding would further the legal, undercover operation. Furthermore, it is alleged that the private investigator and the Hawks detective billed the organization for travel expenses and even for meetings attended. Samac claims that they also had to purchase equipment that has now disappeared without a trace.

After repeated empty promises of arrests, Samac approached the private prosecution unit for help. No evidence could be produced of the “legal covert operation” allegedly authorized by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as required by law.

In October 2021, the private prosecution unit met with the Hawks, the detective and a representative of the NPA where all these aspects were discussed.

After the meeting, adv. Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, addressed a letter to the police. He states, among other things, that Samac went the extra mile to help the Hawks in the fight against organized, syndicated crime in the macadamia industry only to be disappointed by the revelations in the meeting.

Adv. Nel further requested that the allegations be properly investigated in order to address the culprits. “Samac are the victims of a multi-million rand misrepresentation of a fictitious police investigation. This while the onus is on the Falcons to prevent, investigate and fight serious, commercial crimes like this.”

After the meeting, the Hawks’ anti-corruption unit approached the private prosecution unit for an affidavit, but deliberately and persistently withheld information that would have empowered Samac to properly formulate their criminal complaint.

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the unit, says there is enough evidence to support the case against the Falcons detective and the private investigator.

“We have a strong suspicion that the suspects defrauded Samac by submitting false claims for reimbursement of investigative services knowing full well that the detective was a serving policeman. He was not entitled to payment from the private sector for the performance of policing duties. We further suspect that the relationship between the private investigator and the SAPS in these investigations establishes a strong suspicion of corrupt activities, and that the private investigator allegedly defrauded Samac to fund the relationship,” adds Bateman.

“The actions of the senior officers have raised serious questions about the Falcons management. They may have been guilty of defeating the law and may be considered accomplices to the alleged offences. We want the police to investigate this aspect. The system has truly failed when the people tasked with investigating serious and organized crime may themselves become involved in such activities, seemingly with the knowledge of their commanders.”