PRETORIA – Three suspects aged between 33 and 51, allegedly impersonating Hawks investigators, have been arrested in an undercover operation.

The suspects, one of whom has been posing as a Major General, were arrested by the Serious Corruption Investigation unit at a hideout in Midrand, just outside Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

DPCI members recently received a complaint from a prominent businessman about a person pretending to be a Hawks Major General, soliciting money to have a case that he is allegedly implicated, disappear.

An investigation was launched into the allegations and it emerged immediately that there was no such a Major General within the Hawks. On Wednesday afternoon, the three suspects were lured into a police trap and were immediately arrested. Various items were seized pending further investigations.

The National Head of the DPCI, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, described the arrest as a breakthrough in policing, adding that the disturbing reports of so called unprofessional Hawks officers had been muddying the image of the police for some time.

“We have been receiving numerous complaints of scams by so called Hawks members targeting high profile people in the country both in government and in private business demanding cash to throw away cases.

“We believe there is a syndicate that is using false Hawks credentials to rob and scam people and investigations are underway to locate the masterminds behind this criminal conduct.

“The DPCI will not call you and demand money. We urge people to report any potential scam attempts to their local police stations where it can be shared with law enforcement,” said Lieutenant General Lebeya.

The three suspects are expected to appear at the Midrand Magistrate’s Court on Friday facing charges of corruption and extortion. Further charges cannot be ruled out.