JOHANNESBURG - The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) says the burglary at the office of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should not be regarded as an ordinary crime.
On Saturday, thieves broke into the Midrand offices and made off with 15 computers containing important and sensitive information.
The council's Lawson Naidoo says: “The information that has been stolen has the potential to seriously weaken the judiciary and places them in a position that undermines the rule of law in South Africa.”
Democratic Alliance Chief Whip John Steenhuisen has claimed that State Security Minister David Mahlobo was behind the burglary at Chief Justice’s offices following high-profile cases that were heard last week.
These cases include the High Court in Pretoria where Berning Ntlemeza's appointment as head of the Hawks was declared illegal and the Constitutional Court's ruling on the social grants matter.
Steenhuisen says the fact that this theft came just after Friday’s rulings shows there must be a political motive at work. He adds his money would be on Mahlobo as the person responsible.
However, the African National Congress’ Zizi Kodwa says Steenhuisen shouldn't jump to judgment.
In a statement, the ANC says the break-in should leave all South Africans outraged and calls on police to find the culprits.
“Targeting the office of the chief justice, however, is a direct assault on the sanctity of the institutions we, as South Africans, hold dear as propping up our constitutional order. All people in South Africa are entitled to live in safety and free from crime.
“South Africans also want a strong, robust criminal justice system in which they have the fullest confidence in. The cowardly act of breaking into the Office of the Chief Justice is an affront on these aspirations and an attack on the very fibre of our democracy.”
With an investigation underway, authorities have declined to speculate on the motive for the theft.
Questions remain as to why the thieves chose to take equipment on the second floor and not easier targets on the ground floor of the building in Midrand.
Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane says their investigation will determine the motive for the crime.
“We do know that 15 computers were taken and we’re told that those computers do contain personal information of the judges.”
The top cop has appointed a senior detective to lead a multi-unit team to investigate the incident.
(Edited by Shimoney Regter)