Home South African Hawks bigwig in dock over extortion

Hawks bigwig in dock over extortion

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A high-ranking Hawks officer was nabbed after allegedly extorting R100,000 from the disgraced CFO of Matlosana Municipality, Mercy Phetla, who stands accused of corruption.

Hawks Lieutenant Colonel Elias Ledwaba who is the principal investigator in the corruption case against Matlosana CFO Mercy Phetla, was arrested for soliciting bribe from Phetla. Picture: Supplied

DESPITE committing to ensure that no member of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) would attempt to solicit bribes from the chief financial officer (CFO) in the Matlosana Municipality, a top official allegedly failed to resist the temptation.

In a sting operation, law enforcement officials carried out the dramatic arrest of a high-ranking Hawks officer for corruption and extortion.

The successful operation, led by the SAPS national intelligence and anti-corruption unit, saw the arrest of Lieutenant-Colonel Elias Ledwaba.

Ledwaba, a member of the Hawks in the Klerksdorp branch, was nabbed after allegedly extorting R100,000 from the disgraced CFO of Matlosana Municipality, Mercy Phetla, who stands accused of corruption.

The unit members allegedly caught Ledwaba red-handed on Wednesday, shortly after he received the money from Phetla.

He appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for corruption and extortion, and was remanded in custody until February 15.

Ledwaba is the principal investigator in the corruption case against Phetla and two GMHM Construction and Projects employees who were arrested and have already appeared in court.

In confirming the arrest, police national spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said anti-corruption unit members arrested Ledwaba on Wednesday. He was found in possession of R100,000 in the parking lot of Silver Oaks Crossing shopping centre at Silver Lakes in Pretoria East.

“I can confirm that the DPCI’s (Hawks) Lieutenant-Colonel Ledwaba was arrested on charges of corruption and extortion.

“The complainant, the CFO in Matlosana Municipality, was approached by the member, who is attached to the DPCI in Klerksdorp.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Ledwaba is facing charges of corruption and extortion. He was remanded in custody until February 15 for a formal bail application,” Mathe said.

According to a report by the Sunday World: “Ledwaba approached Mercy after she was granted bail and told her she would need to give him R1 million to make the case disappear, as he was in charge of investigations. He told Mercy first to pay him R150,000.”

The Sunday World report further stated that Ledwaba also said he would be coming back to her every week to get more money until the amount reached R1 million.

When Phetla and her co-accused were released on bail after their arrests, it was revealed that sources within the municipality stated, after the trio were granted bail, that one of them boasted about how the case “would disappear” – all they needed to do was raise funds to “make the case go away”.

At the time, Hawks spokesperson Warrant Officer Amogelang Waletse said that her unit had appointed the best investigators and no amount of pressure would deter them from doing their work.

“We understand the influence and power the accused may wield, but it is important to remind the people that this is a high-profile case. We have capable investigating officers who have the best track record in executing their mandate … there is no way they will get distracted by anyone.”

Walatse further stated that the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation Unit was keeping a close eye on the matter.

Phetla was arrested on January 17 alongside two employees of GMHM, Matshepiso Mothelesane, 39, and Nomthandazo Mokasule, 49. The trio were released on R35,000 bail each.

GMHM Construction and Projects was appointed by Matlosana Municipality in 2021 to supply and transport paraffin to indigent households in the rural and un-electrified areas of the municipality for three years.

Following the trio’s bail application on January 23, it was reported that Phetla’s bail was paid for by Masego Mokasule, 23, the son of her co-accused Mokasule.

Following the revelation, Masego’s father and the husband of Nomthandazo, Thomas Patric Mokasule, also known as “McGuyver” came to the defence of his son, and said that the bail was a loan to Phetla.

“Yes, my son paid for her bail, but it was a loan and she has since paid it back into his account. We have nothing to hide … so whichever information you need we will make sure you have it,” he said.

However, Phetla did not confirm this, rather saying: “I cannot disclose to you who paid for my bail because that would be an invasion of my privacy. You can go on writing whatever you like, but I will never disclose the name of my friend.”

Phetla and her co-accused are due back in court on March 1, 2024.

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