File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA).

Durban - Just weeks after confirming that it was going to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud, nepotism and mismanagement at the KZN Department of Social Development, the Hawks pounced on the headquarters of the entity on Thursday and seized documents.

The elite crime-busting unit reportedly first sought an order at the Pietermaritzburg High Court and then proceeded to raid the offices. 

Sources shared videos and pictures of the unit swooping on the building in the city centre of Pietermaritzburg. 

There were reports that they were locked in a meeting with the department's head, Nokuthula Khanyile, who was fingered for the alleged crimes in a letter written by staff to the Hawks. The insiders also said the investigators seized departmental documents and the laptop of a senior financial officer.

Khanyile was accused of being the mastermind behind the alleged corruption and it was alleged she was personally benefiting by getting kickbacks. 

The insiders added that the team came in two batches with the first team driving a Nissan bakkie and it was later joined by a squad of investigators driving VW sedans. One insider said senior officials left when they heard that the Hawks would be coming but were eventually called back. 

The spokesperson of the Hawks in KZN Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo confirmed the raid.

“We can confirm that Hawks members from Durban Serious Corruption Investigation unit conducted a search and seizure operation at Social Development offices in Pietermaritzburg. 

"The search emanates from the ongoing investigation of fraud, corruption, money laundering and Contravention of PFMA,” he said. 

Prior to the raid, an internal memo was sent from Khanyile’s office alerting staff that there would be investigators who would come to the offices and staff members were urged to cooperate. The internal memo, leaked to Independent Media, also had a letter from Premier Sihle Zikalala who stated to Khanyile that a task team has been appointed to probe corruption allegations in the department and the Premier told Khanyile to tell the staff to cooperate with the team. 

*** This is a developing story. 

Political Bureau