Information from the South African Police Service (SAPS) says the country’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) arrested 20 Home Affairs officials and Lesotho nationals for corruption.
The Home Affairs officials serving as immigration officers, were arrested with 6 Lesotho nationals.
BuzzSouthAfrica learnt that the suspects, aged between 28 and 41 were arrested yesterday at the Maseru Port of Entry during the termination of Project Cone.
Project Cone, as a crime-fighting operation, was initiated last year to curb fraud and corruption at the border post.
As alleged, the Home Affairs officials illegally earned thousands of rand by endorsing expired passports and other traveling documents from Lesotho nationals crossing over to South Africa.
SAPS related that the identification of the 26 suspects was enabled by some entrapment operations and Crime Intelligence.
As such, the Home Affairs officials were nabbed whilst on duty, and their runners (Lesotho nationals) at their trading place.
The suspects are set to appear before the Ladybrand Magistrate Court on Monday. There, they will face various charges ranging from money laundering, deafening the ends of justice to the contravention of the Immigration Act.
Speaking, Hawks’ National Head, Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza welcomed the arrests and promised Hawks will expose all those involved in corrupt practices and ensure they face the law.
Ntlemeza remarked that “the time is over to be talking about removing the cancer of corruption in government…the craving to make money by illegal means, which is continuously eating into our everyday life is over.”
With that, he stated that it is unnecessary to warn government officials to stay away from corruption.
“I should not have the need to remind government officials that they must at all times, conduct the affairs of the country with the highest level of integrity.
“It is important that I repeat it. Corruption will not be tolerated in government. It’s either you shape up or ship out,” Ntlemeza charged.