Three police officials were arrested on Wednesdays for allegedly attempting to extort money from City of Ekurhuleni member of the mayoral committee (MMC) in charge of human settlements, Lesiba Mpya.
In a statement, the city said the arrest resulted from an intelligence-driven joint operation between South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD).
The accused had claimed that they were in the possession of a dossier containing evidence of alleged corruption and malfeasance committed by Mpya, mayor Mzwandile Masina, city manager Dr Imogen Mashazi and other senior political figures in the region.
“The accused demanded that Mpya pay an amount of R5 million in order for them to make the dossier disappear,” the statement reads.
However, upon receiving the demand for the R5 million, Mpya approached the police and opened a case of extortion and corruption against the three police officials.
“The SAPS and EMPD proceeded to set up a joint intelligence operation in which the accused were investigated and a sting operation was formulated in order to apprehend the accused,” the city said.
Mpya took part in the sting operation on Wednesday evening. He dropped the money off at a venue the three accused had chosen.
“Upon handing over the money to the accused, police authorities pounced on the three police officials and arrested them.”
Further investigations into the three police officials revealed that they were connected to a string of anonymous WhatsApp messages that went viral in March 2019 that made false claims of corrupt activity being undertaken by Masina’s administration as well as senior management staff at the city.
It was found that messages were being used as an attempt to intimidate Mayor Masina and MMC Mpya into paying their R5 million demand.
“We must commend the swift and effective response by both the SAPS and EMPD in apprehending these three corrupt police officials in our City. I am glad that today, the truth is finally being unveiled on a malicious and incendiary plot to distract this administration from continuing to deliver quality services to our people. We are now fast closing in on City Officials and other individuals involved in these unscrupulous acts of corruption and extortion. The City of Ekurhuleni remains steadfast in its zero-tolerance approach to corruption, and we expect to make more arrests in the near future,” Masina said.
The three accused will appear in court on Thursday and their names have been withheld pending the court appearance.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)