Following the recent arrest of two men by the Hawks over the possession and use of a cellphone spying machine, details have emerged as to what the device was used for.
The two suspects – a top businessman and a bank employee – were lured to the Irene Mall in a police sting operation that resulted in their arrest and confiscation of the spying device – known as The Grabber.
The Grabber is used for cellphone tapping, cellphone tracking, and as a cellular locator, and is reportedly worth over R25 million.
Since the sting operation, three men have appeared in court for the matter, with The Sunday Independent reporting that The Grabber was used to bug top politicians, cabinet minsters, and prominent businessmen who do business with the government.
The suspects using the device had been in operation for over a year, according to reports, using The Grabber to “manipulate and blackmail people in powerful positions and sway multibillion-rand state tenders”.
Senior government official helped buy the device
According to The Sunday Independent, the spying machine was used to rig tenders and gain information on people in powerful positions.
These are “serious crimes against the state”, and can lead to 10 years imprisonment, said the newspaper.
The Hawks said senior government officials are believed to have helped the suspects purchase the device – which is highly regulated in South Africa and globally.
According to the report, an official from the Department of Public Works is alleged to have written a fraudulent letter “on a government letterhead” claiming that the government wanted to buy the device.
The full report can be read in the 9 August 2015 edition of The Sunday Independent.