FREE STATE – The Bloemfontein High Court granted a final forfeiture order against the suspects account for the remaining R270 000 be paid back to the victim on last Thursday .

A Free State farmer who usually buys inputs from other farmers and auctions around Free State allegedly deposited an amount of R768 477 into the suspects’ bank account on 20 March 2020. This follows an invoice received through the email reportedly from his client notifying him about the change of banking details for payment and the money was paid.

Upon realising later that he had been defrauded, when debtors confirmed none payment, the farmer reported the matter to the authorities and the receiving bank account was frozen with only R270 000 remaining in April 2020.

The Hawks preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect(s) allegedly hacked the farmer’s email and intercepted his livestock purchase deals with alternative banking details.

The investigation continues whilst there is no arrest at this stage as the address attached to the banking details were false.

Meanwhile on a separate and unrelated matter, the same court granted a preservation order against the three vehicles, 21 pieces of gold and R1 364 400 recovered from nine (9) suspects arrested for kidnapping.

The suspects kidnapped and kept the wife of Harmony Gold Mine employee against her will on the 7 November 2020. They later contacted the mine management demanding gold for the release of a woman. The mine complied with the demands and the victim was released.

A joint operation led by the Hawks together with the Tactical Response Team (TRT), Protea Coin Security and K9 unit was initiated which led to the their arrest and subsequent first court appearance on the 12 November 2020. Their houses were searched and the team found cash amount of R1 364 400, 21 pieces of gold and 3 vehicles and all were seized for further investigation.

They were all denied bail on the 23 November 2020 and the matter was postponed to 08March 2021 for further investigation.