Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN
Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Members of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s executive have been victims of a scam in which people pretending to be Hawks officers ask for money in exchange for giving them false information about raids on their offices, according to police minister Bheki Cele.

Cele revealed this to journalists while responding to a question following weekend reports that certain senior leaders in the ANC were targeted for raids and investigations, and would be excluded from Ramaphosa’s new, trimmed national executive after the elections.

Independent Newspapers quoted co-operative governance and traditional affairs deputy minister Obed Bapela as saying Hawks generals had tipped him off that his office would be raided this week as part of an “unspecified”  investigation against him.

Cele said Bapela wasn’t the first minister to complain about this.

“If I am not mistaken, he is the ninth minister that has received a message of him being investigated by the so-called Hawks,” said Cele, adding that the people behind the scam were not members of the directorate for priority crime investigation [Hawks], but “tsotsis”,  whose modus operandi was to call and ask the mark why the ANC was fighting with itself.

They would then propose a meeting to share the information, their story being that “either you will be arrested or you will be raided”. 

If the person being targeted was in Johannesburg, they would say they were in Durban and vice versa. They would then say that because the trip to the meeting place was unofficial, the victim would have to send money for an air ticket.

“After I explained to Bapela, it was well understood. It’s a scam, it’s not any political fight. It's a scam by a group of tsotsis,” Cele said.

He added that it was not only politicians who had been targeted, mentioning it had happened to a soccer boss. In that case, the Hawks had entrapped the swindlers and arrested them. They have since been released, having paid a R45,000 fine.  

During the briefing, state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba revealed that her department has yet to interact with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule over his claims that his and his deputy’s phones were bugged. “We are still waiting for him to officially come to us,” said Letsatsi-Duba, adding that the reports were concerning.