Every­one is a sus­pect

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the theft of com­put­ers at the Hawks head office in Pre­to­ria in­ten­si­fies, the elite crime-fight­ing unit’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors and staff are not be­ing left out.

City Press has learnt that a process to take the fin­ger­prints of all staff mem­bers at the unit’s Sil­ver­ton of­fices started on Thurs­day.

A highly placed source, whose fin­ger­prints were also ob­tained, said all staff mem­bers were be­ing treated as sus­pects.

“What is odd about this in­ves­ti­ga­tion is that the area where the com­put­ers were stolen is strictly ac­cess con­trolled, but they are not telling us whose ac­cess card was used to open the doors. The issue of se­cu­rity has been a ma­jor issue and po­lice man­age­ment was in­formed about it,” said the source.

The probe has been kept se­cret but, ac­cord­ing to the source, the limited details avail­able in­di­cate that about six sus­pects en­tered the premises through the west­ern side of the yard af­ter cut­ting the fence open.

They then passed through con­tain­ers that store arms deal doc­u­ments on their way into the of­fices hous­ing the hu­man re­sources and fi­nance de­part­ments, the source said.

Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said the probe was on­go­ing and added that there was no forced en­try into the of­fices.

“CCTV footage is still be­ing an­a­lysed and we will be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to in­form the pub­lic what tran­spired as soon as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted.

“The act­ing head [Yolisa Matakata] wants to see some­one held ac­count­able. Heads are go­ing to roll,” he said.

Se­cu­rity at the office has since been im­proved.

Three sources based at the Sil­ver­ton build­ing, who have seen some of the footage, said the sus­pects were wear­ing bal­a­clavas and gloves.

“They knew what they were do­ing and where they were go­ing. They stole 12 Pro­line com­put­ers, be­ing eight desk­tops and four lap­tops. It ap­pears the staff that was on duty, in­clud­ing se­cu­rity, were ei­ther unaware or sleep­ing when the theft took place early on Wed­nes­day morn­ing,” the source said.

Ac­cord­ing to an­other source, it was not the first time that the of­fices were tar­geted.

“Last year, they stole cop­per pipes leav­ing some sec­tions of the build­ing with­out wa­ter sup­ply. A case was opened and a se­cu­rity anal­y­sis was done and R10 mil­lion was al­lo­cated by the po­lice ser­vice to im­prove se­cu­rity,” said an­other Hawks of­fi­cer.

The process to im­prove se­cu­rity has not yet been fully im­ple­mented. On com­ple­tion, it will in­clude the im­prove­ment of the lock sys­tem from man­ual to bio­met­ric.

“In fact the prob­lem of se­cu­rity is not only af­fect­ing the head office but other of­fices through­out the coun­try as well,” said the of­fi­cer.

City Press un­der­stands that Hawks in­tegrity unit man­age­ment is cur­rently tasked with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and has also sug­gested that some officers should un­dergo poly­graph ex­am­i­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Hawks officers, theft of in­for­ma­tion ap­pears to have been the aim of the break-in.

“Those who stole the com­put­ers now have in­for­ma­tion about ev­ery of­fi­cer who is em­ployed by the Hawks. They also have the fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion and other sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion,” the of­fi­cer said.

The theft at the Hawks of­fices co­in­cided with the court ap­pear­ance of the two men ac­cused of bur­glary at the Office of the Chief Jus­tice in March. Given Masango and cousin Big­boy Yose are ac­cused of steal­ing 15 com­put­ers that con­tained sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion about the coun­try’s judges.

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