The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has welcomed the recent conviction and sentencing of Lerato Mmanoko Matlamela, 33, and Lorraine Thantsha, 25, for fraud. According to Limpopo provincial spokesperson for the Hawks, Captain Matimba Maluleke, the duo were sentenced by the Mokopane Regional Court.
“The victim, who is a businessman, received a call from the people purporting to be officials from the Department of Health who informed him that he was awarded a tender to supply wheelchairs at government facilities in the province. The victim was also provided with the name and banking details of the recommended supplier,” said Maluleke.
Maluleke said after accepting the tender, the unsuspecting businessman made an initial payment of R85 000, followed by a further R162 450, into the bank account provided.
“Upon realising that the department was taking too long to pay him, he then decided to go and enquire. Unfortunately, he was informed that the department never issued such a tender and that the people he was dealing with were not officials from the institution,” said Maluleke.
Maluleke said a case of fraud was opened and transferred to the Hawks’ serious commercial crime investigation for a further probe and that the accused were arrested in Polokwane while attempting to withdraw money from the supplier’s account and were granted R1 000 bail each.
Matlamela and Thantsha were found guilty of fraud and were each sentenced to five years’ direct imprisonment.
“The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation would like to warn potential business people to be careful of scammers and to verify with the concerned institutions before making any payment,” said Maluleke.