Deokaran, 53, died in a hail of bullets on Monday morning in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg.
Police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili said the Gauteng serious and violent crimes unit, with Johannesburg K9, Johannesburg East Crime Intelligence, Fidelity Specialised Services and Community Active Protection, received information and conducted a takedown operation of the suspects in Johannesburg.
She said during the arrests police recovered two firearms and two vehicles.
“The team of experienced investigators caught a break in the case when they received information from Crime Intelligence officers that led to the arrest of the suspects.”
Muridili said the Hawks were investigating the murder and the suspects would appear in court soon.
National police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole commended the investigating team’s breakthrough in the case.
“I am confident the Hawks will work tirelessly to ensure justice is served,” said Sitole.
It emerged after Deokaran’s death that she had been lined up as a witness in the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) purchase irregularities.
She was also a key witness in an investigation run from Gauteng premier David Makhura’s office.
Speaking to TimesLIVE on Tuesday, Makhura’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said: “Babita played a crucial role in the investigation. She provided key information into how certain tenders were awarded.
She was rewarded for being an honest, hardworking and loyal government employee by having twelve bullets pumped into her. She had no chance, the perpetrators did not want to scare her. They wanted to eliminate her.
“She was part of a group of officials who stepped up and said they were not prepared to allow what was happening to continue.”
Mhaga divulged that Deokaran had testified against certain individuals, including in their disciplinary hearings.
Makhura, describing Deokaran as an “exemplary public servant”, tweeted earlier on Friday that a breakthrough in the case was imminent.
He vowed: “The corrupt elements in government who collude with rogue business to rig tenders have nowhere to hide. Looters shall not win.”
Deokaran’s sister, Renu Williams, said in a post on Facebook: “In other parts of the world honesty is applauded and celebrated. Accolades are showered on you. You are a hero.
“This is my sister Babita Deokaran. She was rewarded for being an honest, hardworking and loyal government employee by having twelve bullets pumped into her. She had no chance, the perpetrators did not want to scare her. They wanted to eliminate her.
“Where in the world is that OK and acceptable? Where in the world are you punished in such a heinous way for doing your job and doing it honestly?
“My sister was not just a number in the government system. She is a treasured mum, a sister, an aunt, a friend and a colleague. She is loved more than anything and now a family is literally shattered.”
By Graeme Hoskin – TimesLIVE