Editorials 20.3.2017 05:01 am

Chief justice theft smacks of Watergate

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Moegoeng. (Photo: GCIS)

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Moegoeng. (Photo: GCIS)

There are disturbing similarities between the burglary at the chief justice’s offices and the Watergate scandal, which led to the fall of a president.

It is common cause among rational South Africans that the judiciary is regarded as among this country’s most respected institutions – it’s the bulwark between the excesses of a pressured society and the spring tide of anarchy, which laps at the edges of our constitutionality.

It is nothing short of a travesty of any holding to the rule of law that the offices of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should be burgled. Quite apart from the crass criminality of the deed is the seemingly total disregard by the perpetrators for any semblance of respect for either the courts, whose records were rifled, or for the dignity of the chief justice.

Mogoeng’s spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, disclosed that 15 computers in the human resources unit – which contained important information about judges in this country, officials in the office of the chief justice, the Constitutional Court, high courts, Supreme Court of Appeal and other specialists courts – were stolen.

Mncube confirmed that the floor in the building in Midrand had looked to be closely targeted during the break-in.

“There are computers upstairs but nothing was taken there.”

There are disturbing similarities with the Watergate scandal, when five burglars were arrested for breaking and entering the Democratic national committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington on Saturday, June 17, 1972.

The FBI investigated and discovered a host of interlinked dirty tricks emanating from the official organisation to re-elect president Richard Nixon, ultimately leading to Nixon’s stepping down in 1974, the only American president to resign from office.

It is evident that the close targeting of information in Mogoeng’s office would also point to the same frighteningly intimate insider knowledge used to hijack R200 million in the OR Tambo cash heist.

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