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News

NPA confirms that two laptops stolen in burglary at its Pretoria offices

Burglars who broke into the Pretoria offices of the National Prosecuting Authority during the early hours of Monday morning stole laptops and hard drives belonging to two prosecutors.

NPA spokesman‚ Luvuyo Mfaku‚ confirmed to TimesLIVE that thieves had stolen the laptops.

He however declined to say who the prosecutors were‚ what cases they worked on or how the burglary occurred‚ “as the matter is sensitive”.

The Times understands that the burglars managed to gain access to the highly secure building by bypassing multiple CCTV cameras and security guards on duty.

Once inside they made their way to the second floor where they entered two offices diagonally opposite each other‚ making off with the computers and other electronic devices without alerting the guards.

The burglary comes less than a week after thieves‚ under similar circumstances‚ broke into the Hawks headquarters in Pretoria and stole numerous computers containing staff employment information.

The information was under investigation by a specialised police anti-corruption unit‚ which was investigating appointments made by former Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza.

Ntlemeza was fired by police minister‚ Fikile Mbalula earlier this year.

His replacement‚ Lieutenant-General Yolisa Makataka‚ ordered the investigation into alleged irregularities around employment of staff into various positions within the Hawks.

It also follows the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice earlier this year.

Mfaku told TimesLIVE that the burglary had occurred sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

He said that there was no sign of forced entry into the offices.

The thieves are believed to have gained access to each office by climbing through small windows situated above the doors.

Mfaku said it was still unknown what information was contained on the prosecutors’ offices.

“It is highly concerning that our offices have been broken into. It’s perturbing in fact.”

He said the prosecutors had never reported any threats being made against them to the NPA’s risk assessment authorities.

Mfaku said their internal security personnel were assisting police with their investigation.

He said at this stage they did not believe any cases which the prosecutors were handling were in jeopardy.

Asked if they believed that the burglary was linked to the Hawks break-in‚ Mfaku said the police investigation would determine this.

A Hawks source said the burglary at the NPA and their offices bore a striking resemblance to each other.

“There were no signs of forced entry. The thieves walked past numerous offices and either went upstairs to offices or‚ as in the burglary at our headquarters‚ to the back of the building.

“Both of these cases are being looked at as possibly being linked.”

The policeman said they would also be looking to see if any links could be made to the burglary at the Office of the Chief Justice‚ earlier this year.

“It’s still early days‚ but there are just too many similarities for all of these cases not to be looked at together‚” he said.

Helen Suzman Foundation director Francis Antonie‚ whose own organisation was burgled under similar circumstances last year‚ described the break-ins as “highly perturbing”.

In March 2016‚ computers and documents were stolen from the Foundation’s offices just days after it launched a High Court application calling for the suspension of Ntlemeza as Hawks head.

“It’s not just one burglary that we are talking about. It was first our office‚ then the chief justice’s office and Hawks and now the prosecutors’ offices.

“We hesitate to say that there is a pattern here‚ but clearly institutions of state are being targeted.

“The question remains by whom and for what purpose.”