Johannesburg - The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), or Hawks, on Thursday confirmed an investigation into what has been dubbed the largest known personal data breach to date in South Africa.

This week, Australian web security expert Troy Hunt revealed on Twitter that the personal information of more than 30 million South Africans, including their national identity numbers, had apparently been leaked online.

He took to Twitter and said he had “a very large breach titled ‘masterdeeds’.” 

It’s suspected that the data may have been uploaded around two years ago.

Departments including Home Affairs have since confirmed they would investigate the massive data breach.

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Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said that acting head of the elite fighting unit Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata had instructed the cybercrime unit to look into the alleged breach.

"We typically do not comment on ongoing investigations, however, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, we are collaborating with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders investigating the data breach.

"The scope of the investigation will not be discussed at this point, however, the Hawks’ cybercrime Unit is leading the investigation.  Lieutenant General Matakata has instructed that investigators spare no effort in their probe and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault."

Mulaudzi also advised consumers to avoid using websites to check if the data breach affected them, adding that it was too risky as people could end up compromising themselves.