While authorities avoid speculation on the motive behind the theft of computers at the Office of the Chief Justice, questions remain as to why the thieves chose to take equipment on the second floor and not easier targets on the ground floor of the building in Midrand.
They gained entry to the building early on Saturday morning, making off with 15 computers containing the personal details of thousands of Justice Department staff members, including judges.
The Office of the Chief’s Justice’s Nathi Mncube says the thieves ignored easier targets.
“The Human Resource and Facilities unit is located on the first floor of the building, so on the ground floor there are plenty of computers and so forth that could have been taken but we do not know the reasons why they chose to go to the first floor.”
Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane says their investigation will determine the motive for the crime.
“We do know that 15 computers were taken and we’re told that those computers do contain personal information of the judges.”
Phahlane says a senior detective has been appointed to lead a multi-unit team to investigate the theft of computers at the office of the Chief Justice in Midrand.
He says the theft is being treated with the highest priority.
“We’ve appointed the Deputy Provincial Commissioner responsible for Crime Detection in Gauteng who was on the scene, leading a team comprising of various units.”
Mncube says highly sensitive information was contained on the 15 computers.
“The computers contained sensitive information of more than 1,000 officials throughout the country, with over 200 of them being from the judges.”
He says while Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is shocked by the incident, the judiciary will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional mandate.
Mncube says: “He expressed his shock but of course also he’s hoping that the property that was taken will be recovered. He and the rest of the Judiciary remain unshaken. They will continue to do their work.”
At the same time, the Office of the Chief Justice says it hopes stolen computers, containing important information, will be recovered soon.
The Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen says he would bet that State Security Minister David Mahlobo was behind the crime but Mahlobo’s office has urged people to desist from making baseless accusations.
The State Security Agency’s Brian Dube says the office is deeply concerned by the burglary but says it has nothing to do with it.
“We feel these are reckless and we think that people should give security services space to do their work and really look at what had happened and try to get those people who are involved in this act of crime.”
Mncube says they are trying to establish how the thieves gained access to the highly secure building.
“There’s an alarm system in the building and we’re advised that it did go off but by the time the security got to the building it was a bit too late.”