Police crack diamond syndicate

Johannesburg - The National Prosecuting Authority says a number of businessmen believed to be part of a syndicate dealing in diamonds have been arrested in Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

Spokesperson Nathi Mncube said on Friday: "In a sting operation carried out by a multi-disciplinary project team of law enforcement agencies, a number of senior businessmen were arrested in Kimberley on charges of contravening the Diamonds Act, that is illegal diamond dealing, possession and sale of unpolished diamonds and money laundering."

He said the team was set up in October 2011 and by using undercover agents it was discovered that various unlawful transactions in dealing in unwrought diamonds took place in the Northern Cape.

He said the High Court in Kimberley on Friday, granted the NPA 10 preservation orders in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act effectively freezing property in the sum of approximately R50m.

"The freezing orders were made up of R43m in cash being proceeds from criminal activity, five fixed properties and four vehicles that were used to commit illegal diamond transactions."

He said the order takes place with immediate effect pending the filing of forfeiture applications against the cash and other property.