/ 21 March 2016

Helen Suzman Foundation says break-in not ‘ordinary’

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) on Monday said it was the target of an armed break-in to its offices in Parktown, Johannesburg.

The foundation said the break-in occured on Sunday afternoon.

The HSF said the robbers held up an unarmed security guard at the entrance to the premises before they made for the offices on the second floor and removed computers.

“This was no ordinary robbery,” said Francis Antonie, director of the Foundation.

“The thieves knew exactly what they were after. We obviously do not know who they were, but we have our deep suspicions.

“After forcing the guard to open the gate, the invaders drove their vehicle into the basement of the building, where they knew there was a lift to the second floor. Other businesses in the building were left alone. Nothing else of value besides the computers was taken.”

Antonie said the HSF is one of several civic organisations which have embarked on litigation against the government in an attempt to preserve and protect civil rights and freedoms under the constitution.

“Most recently, the HSF and the legal organisation, Freedom under Law, sought to interdict the head of the Hawks, Major General Berning Ntlemeza, from exercising his powers, pending a review of the processes leading to his appointment,” said Antonie.

General Ntlemeza was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to the top job in the Hawks, the country’s leading corruption and crime fighting unit, notwithstanding previously damning judicial findings impugning his integrity, honesty and fitness.

“This action [the break-in] against a public-interest NGO is an example of the illegality running riot in our country. We deplore it. The HSF wants nothing more than a country which protects its citizens’ rights through the due process of law,” said Antonie.

“The HSF calls on all civil society organisations, the business community as well as the public at large to stand together and speak out loudly in defence of the ever-growing threat to the hard-won freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.”

Police were not immediately available for comment. – African News Agency (ANA)