Alleged dagga kingpin and SANDF member arrested for money laundering

An alleged dagga kingpin along with two others, one of which is a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member, was arrested on Monday 31 August in Mahikeng for dealing in dagga and money laundering. 


The operation by the Hawks' Serious Organised Crime Investigation and Priority Crime Specialised Investigation, assisted by members of K9, Border Policing Unit and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), was aimed to dismantle an illegal enterprise that was allegedly extensively involved in elaborate clandestine activities involving dealing in dagga and money laundering.

"It's alleged that the trio illegally smuggles dagga from Swaziland and supplies it to the market in Mahikeng and surrounding towns," said Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso.

"Following months of surveillance, evidence gathered further suggests that the suspects are allegedly also involved in money laundering activities involving fixed and movable property," added Rikhotso.

In February this year, the main suspect was arrested in possession of dagga worth approximately R600 000 where he was charged with dealing in dagga and has now been allegedly linked to money laundering activities.

Two BMW's, two Mercedes Benz, a Corsa and a VW Polo belonging to the suspects were subsequently seized as they are believed to be proceeds of crime. Bags of dagga that were found during the search were also seized.

The suspects will appear before the Mmabatho Magistrate's Court on Tuesday 1 September 2020 where they will be facing charges of dealing in dagga and money laundering.


This time it was abalone rather than dagga. Mathew Phiri, 45, and Patrick Kanyembo, 34, appeared at Paarl Regional court in the Western Cape on Monday 31 August for sentencing.

This follows their arrest on 23 June 2020 in a joint search and seizure operation on the N1 near the Huguenot tunnel undertaken by members of the Hawks' Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit, Crime Intelligence, K9 and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"The team uncovered a total of 14 855 units of dried abalone worth a total value of R5.6 million concealed in several boxes at the back of a hired truck under bags of onions and potatoes. The duo remained in custody since their arrest," the Hawks said in a statement. 

Phiri and Kanyembo pleaded guilty on all charges which included receiving, transporting and possession of illegally poached abalone as well as money laundering.  

The Paarl Regional Court sentenced the duo to five years imprisonment and an additional two years imprisonment. Both the sentences are wholly suspended for five years with stringent conditions.

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