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14 Apr 2008 15:11
Armed robbers broke into the Johannesburg High Court on Sunday night and took documents relating to what is allegedly the biggest bank cash heist in the country, director of public prosecutions Charin de Beer said on Monday.
The robbers escaped after being involved in a shoot-out with Johannesburg metro police.
De Beer said eight armed robbers broke into the court building on Sunday night and stole various items, including the docket and various exhibits relating to the Thutse matter—a R46-million First National Bank cash-centre robbery from last year.
“[This was apparently] the biggest cash robbery in the country.”
De Beer said, however, that nothing was taken that would hamper further prosecution in the matter. She said the case was meant to begin on Monday but had been postponed for other reasons.
De Beer said the armed robbers tied up security guards and broke into two offices.
One was the chief registrar’s office and the other was a senior state advocate’s office.
The robbers took a safe from the registrar’s office, and a laptop and various documents from other high-profile cases were taken from the advocate’s office.
De Beer said that at the moment, because the offices were being treated as a crime scene, they could not be entered to establish exactly what was missing.
However, she said the police would be finished with this, probably on Monday, after which a more detailed investigation of what was taken would be conducted.
Police spokesperson Captain Julia Claassen confirmed the incident took place but said police understood there to have been six armed robbers.
One man was dressed in full police gear and the others were wearing police-issue reflective vests.
She said the robbers came to the gate of the building at about 9.40pm on Sunday and told the guards they had come to enquire about a rape case.
Once they were let in they forced the guards into a toilet and tied them up.
The documents taken contained “sensitive and confidential information”.
Claassen said that after breaking into the two offices, the robbers fled the scene.
They were pursued by the Johannesburg metro police and a shoot-out ensued. No one was injured and the robbers escaped.
Police are investigating a case of armed robbery.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 0860 10111.—Sapa
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