Zakhele Morris Nkosi, 34, has appeared before the White River Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on charges of fraud after “an in-depth investigation” by the Hawks linked him to the impersonation of Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Nkosi was in court on Thursday, after he was served with summons last month.
“The Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team, with Cyber Crime Investigation team attached to the Hawks Priority Crime Specialised Investigation acted on information that was circulating on social media purporting that the police minister will on the 13 April 2020 announce that liquor shops will open,” said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase.
“This was unbecoming and regarded as fake news as the minister of police has no valid social media account, and a contravention of the Regulations of Disaster Management Act as it was during the hard lockdown levels to prevent the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Nkosi is set to return to court on August 11, and the Hawks said more arrests are expected as the investigation continues.
Preliminary investigation revealed that there were about 161 Facebook accounts and two Facebook groups purporting to be belonging to Cele – bearing his name and his and pictures.
Similarly, the Hawks said 25-year-old Mzomusha Hlongwane, also linked to other Facebook accounts was served with court summons to appear in the Bergville Magistrate’s in KwaZulu-Natal on September 30 last year.
Hlongwane pleaded guilty on all charges and was subsequently sentenced on December 3, last year.
“A fine of R1 000 with an alternative 30 days imprisonment for contravening the Regulations of the Disaster Management Act was handed down to him,” Nkwalase said.
“He was additionally fined R2 000 or two months imprisonment for fraud, suspended for five years on condition that he will not be convicted for fraud over the period of suspension.”