Hawks deny raiding wrong house

Johannesburg - The Hawks on Wednesday denied a report that it raided the wrong house in Sandton during an operation to crack down on illicit diamond trade.

"That was not the wrong house that was raided, it was the right house," Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko told Sapa.

"That is the address we have according to our information, and we secured a search and seizure warrant for that address... but nothing was found on the property."

Ramaloko was responding to a report in The New Age that Hawks officers barged into the wrong house.

The newspaper reported that an armoured vehicle rammed the gates of the property, damaged the electric fence, windows and doors during the operation on Friday.

Homeowner Jennifer Peers was at home at the time with a 9-year-old girl and 3-month-old baby.

She claimed the police did not identify themselves or explain what they wanted. She told the newspaper they broke down her doors and threatened to shoot her dogs if they were not locked away.

The girl was apparently so frightened that she hid inside a cupboard with her teddy bear.

Ramaloko admitted that there was damage to the house but said "we gave the family the necessary support of our action".

"The children were counselled the same day, and we communicated with the insurance company over the damages. That was done," he said.

Ramaloko said the operation "Project Darling" was initiated in 2012 targeting a diamond trade syndicate in South Africa.

Raids were conducted in Johannesburg and Kimberley in recent weeks and among the items seized was R4.417m cash, 66 diamonds, 16 digital scales, laptops, vehicles, two firearms, 282 rounds of ammunition, and an elephant tusk.

He said 26 people had been arrested so far, and some had already appeared in court facing charges of money laundering and using unregistered premises as diamond trading houses.