Deputy President David Mabuza. File photo: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN - The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation - known as the Hawks - have arrested a woman who "fabricated" a murder plot involving deputy president David Mabuza last year.

In a statement released by the specialised crime fighting unit late on Thursday night, spokesperson brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the 31-year-old woman was arrested on Wednesday. 

"A suspect who caused a storm by alleging that deputy president Mabuza was involved in an alleged conspiracy to murder a Mpumalanga businessman has been arrested," said Mulaudzi. 

He said the woman - who masqueraded as Mabuza's niece - was arrested on allegations of fraud, forgery and defeating the ends of justice. She was expected to appear at the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Friday.

"The Hawks launched investigations last year in November after the suspect made startling allegations in an affidavit that deputy president Mabuza was, on 5 November 2018, conspiring to murder an ecotourism business person. The alleged incident is purported to have happened in the police precinct of Sandton, which resulted in the opening of a criminal docket at Sandton Police Station," said Mulaudzi. 

He said the investigation team needed to interview the complainant as the original statement was not recorded by the police, but it became difficult to trace the complainant as those who interacted with her were also unable to locate her. 

"It later became common cause that the deputy president was not in the country at the time of the alleged offence. It became clear that the statement may not be truthful but a possible fabrication, including her relationship with the deputy president," said Mulaudzi. 

He said that the investigating team followed all leads and consulted with other government departments for verification. 

"Based on the information obtained through section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1997 that compels custodians to provide the information, the real person whose details appeared in the affidavit was traced.  

"It is also worth mentioning that the investigators became aware of the identity of the suspect and kept an eye on her while embarking on a search for the real person whose details were used in fabricating the affidavit," said Mulaudzi.

The investigation also ascertained that "huge amounts of money" were paid to the deponent after deposing of the affidavit, he said. 

"An identification parade was held [on Thursday] and the persons to whom the suspect made a report, who happens to be employed by a political party, positively identified her. The suspect has further made a confession before the magistrate. She is currently in custody." 

The investigation was continuing, he said, and the motive for the false statement had yet to be determined. 

The Hawks' head, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, welcomed the arrest.

“I would like to commend the team for staying focused under tremendous pressure to follow a particular course. Those that may have been uncomfortable with providing information will appreciate the help that came as a result of the information provided. I call upon the public to continue to provide the police with information that can help solve crime,” said Lebeya. 

African News Agency (ANA)