Chief justice’s office reviews security
The theft of computers from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s office sparks widespread outcry over ‘an attack on the judiciary’
The Office of the Chief Justice is reviewing its security measures after the theft of 15 computers from its office in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The computers, stolen from the human resources department, contain personal information about judges and staff, such as identity numbers, banking details and where they live.
The incident has caused widespread concern that the theft is "an attack on the judiciary", with institutions in Parliament, from its justice committee to opposition parties, issuing strong statements.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s spokesman Nathi Mncube said security arrangements for judges, the Constitutional Court and the Office of the Chief Justice were all under review, as Constitutional Court judges had previously been targeted by thieves, who had stolen computers in separate incidents over the past two years.
No arrests have been made.
Mncube said closed circuit television footage from cameras at the office had been made available to the police.
My rational suspicion is that the State Security Agency [Mahlobo] is the one who broke into chief justice’s office and stole computersFloyd Shivambu
EFF deputy president
Opposition leaders provoked a social media storm this weekend, as they pointed fingers at Safety and Security Minister David Mahlobo.
"My money’s on Mahlobo and the k*k-handed SSA [State Security Agency]. Signal jammer, imaginary social media villains and inept break ins. Intimidation of judiciary," the DA’s chief whip John Steenhuisen tweeted on Saturday.
"My rational suspicion is that the State Security Agency [Mahlobo] is the one who broke into chief justice’s office and stole computers," EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said.
The ANC released a statement, challenging Steenhuisen to provide evidence.
On Sunday, Steenhuisen told Business Day Mahlobo’s recent claim that the judiciary was colluding with foreign intelligence agencies to undermine the state and the fact that the break-in occurred less than 24 hours after two key judgments —
one on the South African
Social Security Agency and another that declared the appointment of Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza invalid — was highly suspicious.
The Save South Africa Campaign, headed by Sipho Pityana, also expressed doubt over the timing of the theft being a coincidence. "Factions in the executive arm of government have been captured by forces intent on sabotaging our democracy and handing over public power and sovereignty to nefarious elements. We cannot allow the judicial system to be attacked in a similar way," it said.
Mahlobo’s spokesman Brian Dube declined to answer questions, directing Business Day to a statement on Twitter: "We note with serious concern the baseless accusations made by some insinuating our involvement in #ChiefJusticeOfficeBreakin. We urge that people desist from such and create the space for security services to conduct their investigations."