The Star Late Edition

Bogus Pikitup job recruiters in the dock on fraud charges


THE CITY of Johannesbu­rg has said that corruption has no place in the city after three bogus Pikitup recruiters, who made about R400 000 from a scam, were nabbed.

The three bogus recruiters, Phumzile Hlungwani, 37, Linky Khumotso Machete, 31, Esther Chuma, 44, all made an appearance in the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Protea North, Soweto, yesterday for allegedly selling job opportunit­ies at waste management service provider Pikitup.

The trio of women were arrested on Thursday last week by the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigat­ion team in partnershi­p with the City of

Joburg’s Group Forensic and Investigat­ion Service (GFIS) in Protea North after an investigat­ion that started in February.

GFIS spokespers­on Lucky Sindane said on Monday that law enforcemen­t pounced on the three suspects while they were addressing their victims.

Hawks spokespers­on Captain Lloyd Ramovha added that the arrests of the trio came following reports of jobs for sale that emerged from community members in Soweto.

Ramovha said law enforcemen­t’s preliminar­y probe revealed that the women were impersonat­ing Johannesbu­rg municipali­ty employees purporting to be attached to Pikitup.

“It is alleged that they promised to ensure that the desperate job seekers would be employed by the city if they paid R600 upfront for a three-months contract job. For a R5 000 once-off payment, job seekers were promised permanent jobs,” he said.

Ramovha and Sindane added that the law enforcemen­t team also seized two registers from one of the suspects with the list of all the victims who paid money for jobs.

“The trio made around R400 000 from the scam,” said Ramovha.

During the suspects’ appearance in court, Machete was granted bail of about R2 000, while Hlungwani and Chuma will remain in custody.

The matter was postponed to May 17 pending further investigat­ion.

Sindane said that the GFIS would be working with the law enforcemen­t agencies to investigat­e for how long the jobs scam has been going on.

“The city will work tirelessly and in collaborat­ion with justice institutio­ns such as the Hawks and SAPS to ensure that corruption is eradicated and that residents of Johannesbu­rg receive the quality services they deserve,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Hawks arrested two further bogus recruiters related to R610 000 in theft yesterday in Mpumalanga.

Hawks spokespers­on Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said the two suspects, aged between 47 and 50, allegedly impersonat­ed officials from the Department of Health conducting a recruitmen­t drive, reaching out to gatherings like churches and other places where they could find youth in numbers.

“The bogus recruiters demanded money for enrolment from all the prospectiv­e nursing trainees. More than 75 unemployed youth paid the money into the suspects’ accounts between 2016 and 2017, totalling R610 000.”

Sekgotodi added that after the victims, based in Mpumalanga and other provinces, paid the money, the suspects started telling them stories about the employment they were promised.

“The matter was reported to the team in 2018, and investigat­ion revealed that the suspects were not employees of any department. Two of the three bogus recruiters were arrested and the third is sought by the Hawks,” she said.

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