Diamond debacle: Officials nabbed by Hawks after gems disappeared

The Hawks in Kimberley, Northern Cape, arrested four senior officials from the provincial department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) for alleged corruption related to diamonds. The matter dates back to 2011. The four suspects, however, were arrested by members of the Serious Corruption Investigation team on Wednesday morning, 22 September.

HAWKS MAKE ARRESTS YEARS AFTER GEMS DISAPPEAR

Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the Serious Corruption team in Kimberley executed J50 warrants of arrests early on Wednesday morning.

The four suspects – aged between 47 and 66 – face charges of fraud, contravening the diamonds Act and Public Financce Management Act (PFMA), according to the Hawks. They are expected to appear before the Kimerberley Magistrate’s Court imminently.

“These charges stem from the donor funding surpassing R6.7 million received from the European Union during the 2010/2011 financial year. The funds were intended for training students in cutting and polishing uncut (unpolished) diamonds,” said Nkwalase.

The diamonds were purchased from a private entity without the licenses required to buy rough diamonds in March 2011. Despite this, the precious gems were stored at the premises of the said entity.

Meanwhile, 40 students were enrolled in a mining qualification course – that would teach them how to cut and polish diamonds – at the Kimberley Diamonds International Jewellery Academy (KIDJA) in the same year.

In July 2012, it was discovered that the diamonds were missing and unaccounted for after the Auditor General conducted a random inspection.

The Hawks began investigating the diamonds saga, which ultimately led to the arrest of the four senior DEDAT officials, said Nkwalase.

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