Suspicions that the break-in at the offices of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was no run-of-the-mill burglary have been firmed up as details emerged yesterday that the man police believe is the mastermind behind the theft of 15 laptops may be under the protection of state security officials. According to a Business Day report, sources close to the investigation said Nkosinathi Msimango, whom police are searching for because he has ‘critical information’ about the crime, was being protected by elements in the state security services. The laptops containing sensitive information about judges and officials were stolen from Mogoeng’s offices in Midrand on Saturday soon after key judgments critical of the government were handed down, sparking fear that members of the State Security Agency could have had a hand in the break-in. A tip-off led investigators to Msimango’s Mamelodi home, where three suspects linked to the crime were arrested. Msimango was not at home. Business Day says Msimango was arrested five times between 2005 and 2013 for a string of offences including an armed robbery. Each time, the 33-year-old was acquitted, or the cases were withdrawn. ‘The question we should be asking is why all these cases were withdrawn,’ the newspaper quotes one of its sources as saying. ‘I believe he’s being protected by, and paying people in, the police. He is connected to the security services.’
Company registrar records show the wanted man is a company director who owns several expensive vehicles. ‘It’s highly unlikely a guy like this would steal a few laptops,’ Business Day quotes a source as saying. ‘They got an order and somebody was paying them big bucks to do this job. The laptops are wiped by now. Selling them is just a bonus.’ Investigators believed the thieves ‘were specifically sent to do this job’, he said. ‘They could have stolen TVs, office equipment, you name it. But they didn’t,’ he said. Acting Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane’s spokesperson, Athlenda Mathe, confirmed yesterday Msimango was ‘implicated’ in the burglary, but was not a suspect at this stage. Mathe would not be drawn on whether police were pursuing allegations that members of the State Security Agency may have been involved. ‘These were irresponsible utterances made by certain people,’ she said. However, she declined to confirm police had ruled out the possibility of involvement by the agency, notes the report.
A request to summon the Ministers of Police, Justice and Security to Parliament for answers about the burglary was shot down amid fears that it would turn into a ‘political football’, according to a City Press report. DA member of Parliament Glynnis Breytenbach made the request in a letter to the chairperson of Parliament’s Justice Committee, Dr Mathole Motshekga. Breytenbach also bemoaned the fact a scheduled presentation by the Chief Justice’s office had been cancelled. Motshekga, noting the meeting was cancelled earlier this week, said the Office of the Chief Justice had requested that it be postponed given the current circumstances. The Office of the Chief Justice was supposed to present its budget and annual performance report yesterday, but according to Motshekga it wouldn’t be wise to have the Office of the Chief Justice report on a set topic and then MPs raised questions on the issue of the break-in prematurely. ‘This is a very sensitive issue that must be dealt with in the right way and not be turned into a political football.’ Motshekga also said police were working on the investigation and we must allow them to complete it. What would we, as Parliament, ask anyway – unless we just want to make a political football of the issue. This is an extremely sensitive issue that affects the constitutional architecture in our democracy.’