Johannesburg - High-ranking Hawks officers are currently under investigation for their alleged involvement in a multimillion-rand cigarette truck hijacking.
Earlier this month, a British American Tobacco truck carrying 980 cases of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes worth R12 million was hijacked on the N3 in Heidelberg.
Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko confirmed that there were allegations of defeating the ends of justice against some of their members. “The matter is being attended to internally,” he said.
The Star understands that this is part of a huge syndicate that is operating in Joburg. According to insiders, the syndicate targets trucks carrying cigarettes, copper, appliances and other valuable commodities.
The goods are allegedly stored in various warehouses in Joburg.
“These high-ranking Hawks officers work with syndicates targeting and hijacking trucks. They are not usually involved, they sometimes park a distance from the scene of the crime but close enough to watch what is happening,” said a source.
According to police, at the time of the cigarette truck hijacking, five men stopped the truck, which was on its way to Vosloorus.
The five armed hijackers drove a white Polo with blue lights and a white Toyota Fortuner whose occupants were wearing reflector jackets.
The truck was later found abandoned in Protea Glen, Soweto.
Two days later, on May 15, national police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale sent out a media release stating that the SAPS’s National Investigation Unit had recovered the stolen cigarettes and detained a 42-year-old man for questioning.
The unit was, along with other cases, tasked with this investigation.
Makgale said this team had worked tirelessly and they had discovered a retail facility in Witpoortjie, Roodepoort, where some of the cigarettes, to the value of R3m, were discovered.
The Star has been informed by five independent sources that at least three high-ranking Hawks officers were caught red-handed with some of the cigarette cargo.
These sources said the Hawks officers, whose names are known to The Star, were helping to offload the cigarette cargo.
On Friday morning, Ramaloko denied that senior Hawks officials were being investigated.
“There are two junior members whose actions in handling a hijacked truck are being looked at internally,” Ramaloko said.
“They still traced and found the truck. They did a good job but their conduct is being looked at internally.”
The Star and Sapa