Why should we trust state se­cu­rity?

CityPress - - Voices -

The theft of 50 com­put­ers from the of­fices of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence and the brazen heist of mil­lions in for­eign cur­rency from State Se­cu­rity Agency head­quar­ters are hugely em­bar­rass­ing and just plainly un­fath­omable events.

Noth­ing in the de­tails that have so far emerged re­gard­ing ei­ther in­ci­dent sug­gests that the thieves had to break in or dam­age any­thing in their ef­fort to ac­cess the com­put­ers or the cash.

So far, the ev­i­dence sug­gests that they merely marched into the of­fices, opened safes with the right keys and walked out again with­out in­ter­rup­tion or be­ing both­ered by se­cu­rity.

Le­gal con­ven­tion is that we have to wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions to un­fold be­fore com­ing to any con­clu­sions. While spec­u­la­tion would be fool­hardy, it is hard to dis­miss in­di­ca­tions that this could be an in­side job in­volv­ing staff – with con­sid­er­able in­sights into the work­ings of the se­cu­rity of­fices.

Th­ese de­vel­op­ments leave South Africans with a sense of shock and dis­be­lief. How do we trust our in­tel­li­gence ser­vices with our lives and our se­cu­rity if they can barely se­cure them­selves?

The po­lice have moved to as­sure us that the stolen com­put­ers from mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence were new and didn’t hold im­por­tant data.

The jury is out on that, but it is spine-chill­ing to imag­ine the pos­si­bil­ity that con­fi­den­tial state in­for­ma­tion could so eas­ily have fallen into the hands of the en­e­mies of the coun­try.

Re­ports that the closed-cir­cuit TV cam­eras at the state se­cu­rity of­fices had not been work­ing for months also point to the in­cred­i­ble neg­li­gence (if not de­lib­er­ate con­nivance) of those in charge of the in­sti­tu­tions.

Only the swift pros­e­cu­tion and con­vic­tion of those who have been ar­rested can re­store a mea­sure of con­fi­dence in these in­sti­tu­tions.

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