Why should we trust state security?
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.