The Hawks may not be flying at full capacity, but the unit’s leadership says it is working to fill around 1 500 positions as soon as possible.
Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, head of the Hawks, revealed on Tuesday that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), as the unit is officially known, is only operating at 52% capacity.
Lebeya also stated that 244 officials ranging from junior to middle management had recently been appointed to fill the vacancies.
Several senior positions, including that of Lebeya’s deputy, have also been filled.
Lieutenant-General Siphesihle Nkosi assumed command on November 1.
“General Nkosi has extensive experience investigating fraud and commercial crime,” Lebeya said.
“He has a National Diploma in Police Administration, two honours degrees in Bachelor of Technology in Policing, and a Bachelor of Laws to his name, in addition to several certificates. He is currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy degree.”
“We will appoint five more senior managers by December 1st, 2022, and three more by January 1st, 2023,” Lebeya added.
Lebeya stated that with the latest appointments, the DPCI had grown to 52% capacity from the previous fiscal year.
“The DPCI capacitating process is ongoing.”
He stated that another 290 positions were currently being considered by panels, but that the Hawks were still looking to fill around 1500 positions.
Capacity issues hampered investigation completion due to the increased workload that each official had to bear as a result of the shortages, he added.
Lebeya did not seem concerned about budgets for the new positions, explaining that there was enough for the positions currently being filled and that they would engage with the relevant authorities once the budget was depleted.
He also used Tuesday’s briefing to highlight the Hawks’ recent success in the second quarter of the fiscal year.
“To begin, I’d like to state that the DPCI has apprehended at least 827 suspects who have been successfully prosecuted in various courts across the country.
“During the same time period, 217 accused people were convicted and sentenced, earning them the title of criminal.”
“The majority of arrests, 524 in total, are the result of Serious Organized Crime Investigation.”
The Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit made 206 arrests, while the Serious Corruption Investigation unit made 97 arrests, “bringing our quarterly total of 827 for national priority offences.”
Lebeya cited several cases, including the arrest of seven people for defrauding the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela museum project in the Free State.
“Between January 2008 and December 2010, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture allegedly stole funds set aside for the Brandfort Museum project, also known as the Winnie Mandela Museum, in the hands of the Department and the Lejweleputswa District Municipality.
“According to reports, the service providers were hired without following proper procurement procedures. The department lost more than R700 000 as a result of these irregular activities.”
Tsoareli Malakoane, Nontsikelelo Eunice Aaron, Tsoareli Malakoane, Monyane Matthews Sefantse, Errens Lodewikus Celliers, and Sithiwe Thubane were arrested in September.
On the 14th of October, a seventh suspect, Jan Ham du Plessis, was apprehended by border police at OR Tambo International Airport before allegedly attempting to flee the country.
“The accused have been charged with fraud, theft, and violating the Municipal Finance Management Act,” Lebeya said.