The Free State Hawks have arrested seven suspects for selling electricity illegally.
According to statement issued by Hawks, the arrests follow joint operations carried out by the Free State Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation, Eskom, Public Order Policing and others, OFM News reports.
The joint team traced and arrested a criminal network that was responsible for the pre-paid electricity fraud and theft. The investigations started in May 2020 in Bloemfontein, Free State, following unlawfully sold electricity that was accelerated by illegal suppliers who were in the unlawful possession of electricity supply machines, or pre-paid metres.
According to the Hawks statement, the suspects were not easy to track down, as they worked in groups nationally and they allegedly generate an income of about R150 000 to R250 000 per day. These illegal vendors are claimed to be highly organised, well equipped and difficult to track.
One of the suspects is claimed to have offered a police officer a bribe of about R100 000 during their arrest, resulting in an additional charge of corruption. Other suspects were charged accordingly, as they were found in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
Meanwhile, seven vehicles, prepaid electricity vouchers and transaction records were seized. Cash of R714 800, cellphones, laptops and sim cards were also seized for further investigations.
All the suspects are expected to appear in the Fochville Magistrate’s Court on Friday,11 June 2021.