Johannesburg - The Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of one of its own for theft. 

The man, who headed the unit's Serious anti-Corruption division, was nabbed in Mpumalanga following a protracted probe into the theft of approximately R439 900. 

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi in a statement said the money had been seized during earlier operations. 

"It is alleged that in May last year, the National Intervention Unit (NIU) from Cape Town, who were on deployed in Mpumalanga, seized two cash amounts of R232 400 and R164 500 from two different suspects whilst conducting operations on the same day.

"Both cases were transferred to the Hawks for further investigation; [however] there was no evidence which linked both suspects to the suspected cash seizures. The two men then sought the intervention of private lawyers to retrieve their cash and an order was granted by the Nelspruit Magistrate court."

It then emerged that the money had vanished and the suspect, Captain Richard Nkwanyama, who had taken responsibility to safeguard the money, gave differing statements. 

"An investigation was then initiated by the Hawks in Mpumalanga and... it transpired that a further R43 000 from a different case was also allegedly missing from the R118 000 seized from a suspect."

Following this, Nkwanyama handed himself over to the Hawks' Middelburg Organised Unit members on Monday and made a brief appearance at the Nelspruit Magistrate Court where was released on R5 000 bail. 

He faces charges of theft and defeating the ends of justice and has since been barred from entering any of the Hawks' offices.

Acting National of the Hawks Lieutenant General Matakata, meanwhile expressed disappointment at the arrest of a Hawks member. 

She also warned that the unethical actions of a few members would not be allowed to undermine the hard work of other honest, dedicated Hawks members. 

 “The presence of corruption is like a cancer eating out the very heart of the DPCI.  Individuals who continue to undermine the efforts of others must be identified, punished and separated from the good men and women of the Hawks. 

"The fight against corruption must be fulsome, total and unrelenting and hence I have ordered that the member be suspended immediately,” she said.