SUNDAY TIMES - Special team to probe theft at Mogoeng Mogoeng's office
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Sunday Times News By KHANYI NDABENI and SABELO SKITI, 2017-03-19 00:02:00.0

Special team to probe theft at Mogoeng Mogoeng's office

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng office's was broken into.
Image: VATHISWA RUSELO

Acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane has set up a team of detectives to investigate the brazen break-in at Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's office in the early hours yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Athlenda Mathe said they were investigating the break-in and theft, while detectives were working around the clock to bring the perpetrators to book.

Brazen thieves made off with 15 computers containing sensitive information about Constitutional Court judges and officials after breaking into Mogoeng's private office.

Mathe said Phahlane viewed the crime as an attack on the judiciary.

"The acting commissioner has appointed a multidisciplinary team led by Major-General Mary Motsepe, the deputy provincial commissioner of crime detection in Gauteng, to expedite the processing of the crime scene. The South African Police Service deems the break-in at the offices of the chief justice as an attack on the judicial system and views this in a serious light.

"We condemn in the strongest terms this unfortunate incident, we have assembled a team of detectives to process the investigation," said Phahlane in a statement.

There would be a security assessment at the offices to advise on enhancing safety.

Nathi Mncube, Mogoeng's spokesman, said that, during the break-in at chief justice's new offices in Midrand, Johannesburg, the thieves managed to get away with computers which were in an office where the human resources and facilities units are located.

"The stolen computers contain important information about judges and officials of the office of the chief justice and constitute a huge setback for the entire administration of the justice," Mncube said.

"The break-in was reported to SAPS and various units from ... [the police] were dispatched to the office of the chief justice to conduct further investigations. Upon being informed of this crime, the chief justice remarked that this must be viewed in a very serious light and the police ought to do everything in their power to ensure that the culprits are brought to book," Mncube said.

The office of the chief justice became a fully operational in 2015 with its own budget to support the chief justice to carry out his functions as both the head of the judiciary and of the Constitutional Court.

The ANC said the break-in was a "direct assault" on the sacredness of the institution. "This dastardly criminal act, targeting the office of the highest judicial officer in our country, should leave all South Africans outraged and our law enforcement officers determined to speedily find and bring to book its perpetrators.

"The cowardly act of breaking into the office of the chief Justice is an affront on these aspirations and an attack on the very fibre of our democracy. The ANC therefore calls on law enforcement agencies to use all resources at their disposal to ensure that these criminals are dealt with to the full extent of the law," said ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa.

The break-in comes a day after the Constitutional Court delivered a scathing judgment, condemning the manner in which the uncertainty around the distribution of social grants had been handled.

During the judgment, in which the court extended Cash Paymaster Services' contract for 12 months, the court was critical of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for allowing a situation wherein the payment of grants was under threat.