Everyone is a suspect
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.