More diamond syndicate arrests expected
Johannesburg - The Hawks expect to arrest more people linked to a multi-million rand illicit diamond dealing syndicate, spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said on Tuesday.
"The operation continues, which includes raids and seizures. At least 35 people are targeted through the operation," Ramaloko said.
He said 26 people, aged between 23 and 70, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate's Court and were granted bail of between R5 000 and R500 000.
The charges included money laundering and using unregistered premises as a diamond trading house. Four of them were women.
Ramaloko said the arrests were part of Project Darling that was initiated in 2012 to eliminate illicit diamond trade with a specific focus on the Northern Cape and links to the rest of the country.
Among seizures made was R4.417m cash, 66 diamonds, 16 digital scales, laptops, vehicles, two firearms, 282 rounds of ammunition, and an elephant tusk.
"We believe that the discovery of the tusk could lead to more illegal activities committed by the suspects," Ramaloko said.
The raids were conducted in Johannesburg and Kimberley.
Ramaloko said in 31 transactions 490 diamonds were sold to the accused. These amounted to R43.183m.
Twenty-three transactions comprising 76 diamonds amounting to R380 000 were purchased from the accused.
Charges of tax evasion would be added in due course, Ramaloko said.