Phahlane: No links between government officials and chief justice burglary
While public suspicions continue to connect the burglary at the chief justice offices to members of government, the acting national police commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, has condemned these as “baseless allegations”.
On Wednesday, Phahlane provided an update on the police investigation into the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) in the early hours of Saturday morning in Midrand, Johannesburg. Fifteen computers containing personal information on 250 judges were stolen from the building.
Phahlane noted that the “outcry and outrage” of citizens in response to the break-in at the OCJ “is justified” but he also said that there had been “baseless allegations” made against leaders in government, which had been unhelpful to the investigation.
The burglary at the OCJ came less than 24 hours after the Constitutional Court delivered a judgment indicting Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for her role in the grants crisis. The court found that Dlamini had been responsible for the South African Social Security Agency’s failure to secure a delivery method to pay grants without an unlawful contract.
Shortly after the Concourt judgment, it also emerged that the former director general of the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa), Zane Dangor, had a break-in at his home.
Dangor resigned from the department of social development citing a break of trust in Dlamini.
But Phahlane said there were no links between the break-in at Dangor’s house and the theft from the OCJ.
“I don’t have evidence to that effect,” he said, adding that the motive for the chief justice burglary remains unknown.
No information on inside job
Phahlane confirmed earlier reports that three arrests had been made in Mamelodi in connection with the OJC burglary and that the possible getaway vehicle had been seized.
The three men were found with unlicensed firearms and fake identity documents but he could not confirm whether the burglary was an inside job.
“We do not at this stage have info on whether it was an inside job or not, because not one of the three is a staff member [at the office of the chief justice]. The three are just criminals,” Phahlane said.
He also said that during interviews with the three men, another man, Nkosinathi Msimango, was revealed to have “critical information” and should report to the nearest police station to assist in the investigation. Phahlane did not give any other information on Msimango.
A security assessment on the OCJ will now begin to determine where there are weaknesses.
“We are concerned that there was a security breach at the Offices of the Chief Justice. It is for that reason that we, among others, sanctioned the security assessment,” Phahlane said.
The stolen computers were in the human resources unit on the first floor of the building, but ignored computers from the ground floor, where the IT and finance units operate.