NEWS

3 Suspects In The Chief Justice Robbery Have Been Caught. But We Still Don't Know What's On Those Stolen Computers.

Details about police investigation on Office of the Chief Justice break-in leave more questions.

22/03/2017 10:06 SAST | Updated 22/03/2017 11:23 SAST
Sandile Ndlovu/Sowetan/Gallo Images

Big ups to the police for calling a briefing on the break-in into the Office of the Chief Justice over the weekend, and for arresting three suspects in Mamelodi recently. Transparency is important in a high profile and highly suspicious case like this.

Also big ups to the police for their recent successes, such as finding, safely, Durban baby Siwaphiwe Mbambo after his abduction and after the whole world was looking after him, and also for arresting people in connection with the cash heist at the OR Tambo International Airport. Acting Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane was correct to mention these during a press briefing on Wednesday morning.

The police even seized unlicenced firearms and fake IDs, and they have the name of a person who can help them with their investigation. Phahlane said more arrests were expected.

But the low-hanging fruit in this investigation is to find out what is on those computers that the thieves might be after. Would establishing the motive not help lead the police to the suspects?

In response to questions from journalists, Phahlane said: "At this stage there is no information on whether it is an inside job or not. Not one of the three [arrested] is a staff member."

At this point, these guys are "just criminals out there". The investigation was still at a preliminary level.

That is also why the police could not say what information was on the computers, just that 15 had been stolen. As to what details were loaded on those computers, "it's not for us to tell", he said.

Surely, if police were concerned about the safety of the judges whose personal information might be on those computers, they would at least try to find out? Nothing was said about this, even as there were questions about the break-in into former Social Development director-general Zane Dangor's house two days ago.

Nothing was stolen there, but Phahlane said he would follow up on why no case was opened after it was established that nothing was stolen.

"You have people who are in the house, and found access in there, that's why there's provision in our common law that there is attempted robbery" he said.

Also, with no direct reference to social media speculations by Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen that state intelligence might have had a hand behind the break-in, Phahlane said such speculations should stop. This probably doesn't make life easy for police, but it puts more pressure on them to solve the case and find a motive - if they don't, Steenhuisen might just be vindicated.

In the mean time, South Africans are just hoping that they have seen the last of the break-ins, for now.