Fin­ger­print found, iden­ti­fied at Hawks’ of­fices fol­low­ing break-in last month

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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