SOUTH AFRICA – The South African macadamia industry was rocked by a staggering loss of R4 million (USD 209,480) as an investigation into theft backfired, revealing an intricate web of deceit and corruption.

The South African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) spearheaded the probe in collaboration with individuals claiming affiliation with the Hawks, South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.

However, it has come to light that these purported operatives duped SAMAC, absconding with both funds and equipment allocated for the investigation.

Barry Bateman, SAMAC’s media spokesperson, expressed dismay, revealing, “Between 2016 and 2020, the private investigator together with the Hawks detective created the impression that they were lawfully conducting a Hawks covert operation to identify, arrest and prosecute members of a syndicate trading in stolen macadamias.”

SAMAC, in a bid to salvage the situation, enlisted the aid of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit. Together, they lodged complaints of corruption, fraud, and theft against the fraudulent duo at the Nelspruit Police Station.

The complaint also implicates senior Hawks officers for alleged negligence in addressing the illicit activities brought to their attention.

The unraveling saga paints a grim picture of deception and complicity within law enforcement. Advocate Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, lamented SAMAC’s victimization, denouncing it as a multi-million-rand misrepresentation veiled under the guise of legitimate law enforcement operations.

Moreover, suspicions have been raised regarding the Hawks Anti-Corruption Unit’s reluctance to furnish SAMAC with vital information necessary for formulating a comprehensive criminal complaint.

Bateman voiced the industry’s concerns, stating, “There is ample evidence to support the case against the Hawks detective and the private investigator.”

The crux of the matter lies in the alleged fraudulent activities perpetuated by the duo. “We strongly suspect that the pair defrauded SAMAC by filing false claims for reimbursement of investigation services,” Bateman asserted.

He further emphasized suspicions of corrupt collusion between the private investigator and the South African Police Service (SAPS), implicating the detective in unauthorized financial gains for performing policing duties.

The fallout from this debacle has cast a shadow over the integrity of Hawks management. Bateman raised pertinent questions, questioning whether senior officers were complicit in obstructing justice.

 “They may have conducted themselves in a manner equivalent to defeating the ends of justice,” he added, urging a thorough police investigation into this aspect.

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