PRETORIA – Gauteng police arrested 31 suspects between the ages of 19 and 55 after being found in possession of more than 300 South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) cards at Springs Mall in Selection Park.
Police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza said the 15 men and 16 women also allegedly had an amount of almost R100 000 on them.
Kweza said police received a tip-off regarding illicit money lending activities taking place around Springs.
“These alleged ‘loan sharks’ allegedly obtained and retained the SASSA cards of beneficiaries after loaning their victims money.
“A multi-disciplinary team was subsequently formed consisting of detectives from the Gauteng Provincial Head Office, Commercial Crimes Investigations unit and members of SAPS Springs, together with investigators from South African Social Security Agency and the National Credit Regulator.”
Kweza said the operation was executed on Thursday.
“The group of suspects are expected to appear before the Springs Magistrate’s Court, while further investigation is under way.”
Speaking to SAfm, SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said they had more information on “loan shark” operations in other areas.
“We are working together with SAPS and other stakeholders… It’s not only here at Springs where we have this information; it’s happening in other areas as well. Obviously there’s an operation that police are working on.”
Letsatsi said in one of the female suspects arrested in Springs allegedly had an amount of R20 000 on her.
“They basically go around with more than one card to do numerous withdrawals.”
He said it was unclear whether the suspects were syndicates or working as individuals. Police are investigating.
“But from the look of things, we think these are just individuals who are operating independently. It’s just that sometimes when people commit crime, they tell each other how to do it and identify a spot where it’s easy to commit the crime.”