Three suspects arrested for allegedly defrauding pensioners were hauled before a court on Friday.
Gugu Precious Magudulela, 41, Lindiwe Gladys Thango, 51, and Thabane Blessing Mbhele, 46, from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, appeared in the Vrede magistrate’s court in the Free State.
According to police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele, the trio allegedly impersonated SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) officials.
“They were arrested by Newcastle police on March 3 2021 after it emerged that they were targeting pensioners during pension payouts at various post offices and homes pretending to be Sassa officials or people selling traditional medicine (muthi) to pensioners,” said Makhele.
“It is alleged that on March 3 during the pension payouts, the trio left Newcastle with a hired motor vehicle to travel to Memel in the Free State.
“They went to a local post office but couldn’t find any pensioners, then proceeded to Zamani township where they engaged in a door-to-door campaign looking for their potential targets.”
Makhele said the alleged fraudsters duped an elderly woman into giving them her Sassa card by pretending to be officials from the agency. They then swapped the card and went on to withdraw her money.
“The trio apparently got to a certain house where they found a granny and her daughter aged 40. They asked the granny to give them her pension card and identity document to register her for food parcels,” said Makhele.
They then swapped her card with another card without her noticing and went to Memel town where they withdrew all the money on the card and shared it among themselves.
“Information and description of the suspects was issued to Newcastle police who pounced on the trio and seized the Sassa card of the pensioner.”