Police Minister Bheki Cele has welcomed the arrest of three possibly high ranking figures of the criminal underworld, allegedly linked to an ongoing “extortion racket” of businesses in Cape Town.
Mark Lifman, Jerome Booysen and William Stevens appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates court on Wednesday, following their arrest by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation.
The trio was arrested in one of the phases of an ongoing investigation into extortion, dealing in drugs, fraud, corruption and money laundering activities of the Cape Town underworld organised crime.
Cele said the arrest is a huge victory in the fight against organised crime.
“This is only the beginning of our efforts as the police to tighten the grip on these crimes committed by the underworld and run extortion rackets that undermine the state and threaten the livelihoods of local economies,” Cele said.
The suspects were granted R100 000 bail each and are due back in court on 9 February 2021.
Meanwhile, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has cautioned the public about scammers who are purporting to be members of the Hawks.
This is after the family of one of the accused persons arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation members for fraud allegedly paid R100 000 to a person who claimed to be a member of the Hawks.
According to Captain Matimba Maluleke, the bogus Hawks member allegedly contacted the family of the accused person and identified himself as Enos, from the Serious Corruption Unit in Polokwane and demanded money in order to squash the docket.
“After the money was paid, the family members of the accused became surprised when the matter was placed on the court roll as opposed to what they were promised by the bogus Hawks member. They then reported the matter to the real Hawks who are now busy with the investigations.
“Whilst busy with the investigation, another report about bogus Hawks member who was busy demanding money from the family of another different accused person was received,” Maluleke said.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has warned the public that no member of the Hawks is allowed to call family members of an arrested person and demand money for their freedom.
“If they receive such a call, they must know that they are about to be swindled and they are requested to report to the nearest police station.”