One year later, cops cagey about Chief Justice burglary
They refuse to say whether they've made progress in the case, or got the sensitive documents back
More than a year after the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand was burgled and 15 computers containing sensitive information about the country’s judges were stolen, no one has been prosecuted for the crime and none of the equipment has been recovered.
The burglary occurred within months of offices of the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Pretoria being broken into and sensitive human resource documents stolen.
Police declined to comment this week on the status of the investigation, but the Office of the Chief Justice confirmed they had had no formal feedback from the police.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said: “The matter is still under investigation. As a rule we neither discuss investigations nor do we give a blow-by-blow account of investigations in the public domain.”
Nathi Ncube, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Justice, said they had received no formal feedback from the police.
“We also have not had our stolen computers returned to us.”In October 2017, the South Gauteng Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute Nkosinathi Msimango, who was originally arrested for the burglary that occurred in March that year.
At the time of the burglary, Msimango was named by former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane as a person of critical importance to the police’s investigation.
He was arrested with two other people, but was the only one charged for the burglary.
Msimango’s lawyer, Sammy Mahlangu, said they had not heard anything more about the case or arrests since his client was released.
“In my opinion the cops did not have much to go on when they arrested my client.”
Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies said the lack of information suggested the police did not have any leads and were not making progress in the investigation.
“When police make arrests and achieve prosecutorial success they usually make a lot of noise.“While the comment ‘no comment on investigations’ is not surprising, there needs to be a big mind shift by the police in the way they communicate with the public through the media. The police must realise that they have to try and improve public trust in the service. Simply saying they will not talk to us or give feedback on high-profile cases does not build public trust in their institution.
“Similarly, if there are serious allegations against senior officers and the police fob it off as an internal matter – which it might strictly speaking be – it does not build public trust that they are dealing with these matters effectively.”
He said there needed to be a better, and more thoughtful, approach by the police in dealing and communicating with the public through the media on high-profile cases.
“There is nothing wrong with simply saying that they have no leads and appeal for public assistance.”• A year ago, parliament’s portfolio committee on police summonsed the then acting head of the Hawks‚ Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata‚ to explain to MPs how a burglary could happen at what should be one of the most secure buildings in SA.
Computers and hard drives were stolen‚ including material from the human resources department and finance and supply chain management when thieves broke into the Pretoria head office of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in July.
The Hawks said at the time they were concerned because their HR information “is highly confidential as it contains members’ records”.
The area was access-controlled and there was no forced entry.
• In July 2017, burglars gained access to the NPA offices, which belong to several high-ranking prosecutors, on Church Square. The burglars entered the building – which is home to the authority’s North Gauteng division – by climbing through several small windows above the office doors.
The thieves made off with suspected high-profile crime dockets.