Fingerprint found, identified at Hawks’ offices following break-in last month
A FINGERPRINT found during a break-in at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) head office in last month has been identified, the parliamentary oversight committee on police heard yesterday.
Acting Hawks head Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakate was being quizzed on the Silverton, Pretoria, break-in at police headquarters.
“A fingerprint was identified, as we pointed out (when making submission to the commission),” Matakate said.
She said the print was found “on a door that can’t be opened from the outside” – access could only be obtained from inside the building. Matakate would not confirm that the print belonged to any of the Hawks’ members working in the building. The investigation was progressing well but a lot still needed to be done, she said. “As you will know, there was a break-in in eight offices; computers were taken within the finance environment and laptops from the same environment were taken, but the information taken was not at all related to investigations.”
The stolen information mostly related to the financial aspects of the department and included cellphone data on Hawks’ members and budgets.
“We were able to determine there were three intruders during the break-in, wearing balaclavas and gloves,” she said.
It was also determined that the intruders knew there was a monitoring camera at the point of entry. They ensured they did not look at the camera and, although they were wearing balaclavas, “the way they moved in the environment was an indication that they were aware of the camera”.
The intruders accessed the offices by cutting the fence at a railway line near the office, Matakate said.
“It was through their footprints that we followed in the investigation that we could pick up where they loaded the computers that were taken on the bakkie.”
Because the incident happened at night, it was difficult to identify the number plate on the vehicle, she said. The head-office did not have enough security guards, even though requests for additional guards had been made last year.
“We are following up with those requests,” she said. SAPS supplied the guards at the office and many were former police reservists.
“They come from the same security guards who are from the SAPS pool,” Matakate said.
She told the committee she did not believe other breakins at government offices were coincidental.
In March, 15 computers containing personal information on the country’s judges were stolen from the office of the country’s chief justice in Midrand. Two men have appeared in court for that case.
In July, just a week after the break-in at the Hawks’ office, computers were stolen from the office of the regional director of public prosecutions and just weeks later, the office of Pretoria’s chief public prosecutor was robbed.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has said he believed the break-ins were “inside jobs”. – ANA