National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. File picture: Ian Landsberg

Johannesburg - A national investigation unit formed by national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has uncovered two syndicates that involve police officers who target foreign-owned businesses.

Phiyega formed the unit last year after Chinese, Somali and Pakistani businesses were robbed of large amounts of cash.

The syndicates are alleged to produce fake search warrants from the SA Receiver of Revenue (Sars), and its members are said to be accompanied by police officers on their robberies.

When the person opens for them, they get robbed.

Phiyega spokesman Solomon Makgale said on Monday the suspects arrested consisted of 11 Sars officials, four SAPS members, two members of the Gauteng traffic police and a civilian.

He said the two syndicates - who are linked - had operated in Florida, the Joburg CBD, Langlaagte, Boksburg and Randburg.

“The challenge is that most of the people targeted keep large sums of cash. They do not bank, and this makes them susceptible to this type of crime.

“We once again call on all business people to use banks to ensure that their money is secured. Also, victims should report the crime immediately,” Makgale said.

Six people were arrested last October after they approached business premises owned by a Chinese businessman in Boksburg North.

The robbers allegedly produced a fake customs search warrant with the intention of robbing the businessman.

A vigilant employee immediately alerted the police, who arrested suspects on the spot.

Six people are out on bail on charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering, robbery and house-breaking.

Weeks after the October incident, the unit arrested eight other suspects for their alleged involvement in the robbery of a Pakistani businessman at his Randburg house.

Last week, the unit led by Lieutenant-General Vinesh Moonoo pounced on five more suspects who used the same modus operandi in Boksburg North.

- The Star