Lazarus Mabotja, 40, appeared in the Bronkhorspruit Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with impersonating a Hawks officer after he tried to extort R300,000 from a former mayor.
The former mayor told the Hawks he became suspicious after the alleged perpetrator claimed the mayor should hand over R300,000. This was because Mabotja, who had called himself captain Ngobeni, had destroyed the docket of a case filed against the mayor.
However, the mayor said he had not been aware of any case against him.
During the arrest, the suspect was found to be in illegal possession of a number of blank arrest warrants, search warrants, the Pretoria Regional Court date stamp, a full Hawks uniform and a fake letter with a Hawks logo.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said impersonators operated by keeping track of crime news on TV, radio and social media, then finding the people being investigated. They would knock on their victims’ doors and pretend to be involved in the investigation to scam people.
Mulaudzi said inside connections were needed for this type of crime to be carried out successfully.
Mabotja’s arrest on Thursday marked the third this year of Hawks impersonators.
The previous arrests included that of former Tactical Response Team Constable Ryno du Plessis, 30. He was arrested this month in Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre after he attempted to scam high-profile police officers. He would appear in the Cullinan Magistrate’s Court next month.
In May, Gabriel Paul, 40, was arrested in a similar incident. He would appear in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court on July 16. Mabotja was released on parole last year after he was arrested for alleged murder and robbery.
The case resumes on July 5 for a bail application.