Business Day reported on Friday that, despite the police’s protestations to the contrary, suspicions that the State Security Agency had a hand in the theft of IT equipment at the offices of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng refuse to go away.
Further details have emerged about the man that acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said this week held “critical information” about the theft of 15 laptops with information about the judiciary.
Sources close to the investigation told Business Day that the “witness”, Nkosinati Msimango, was being protected by elements in state security.
The theft has sparked fears that it might be a form of government intimidation, but the state has denied this.
The three suspects arrested so far were found at Msimango’s Mamelodi home after a tip-off, but Msimango was not there.
At a press conference on Wednesday Phahlane called on Msimango, who he said had critical information and was in the vicinity of Mamelodi during the time of the arrests, to report to his nearest police station to “assist in this matter”.
When questioned, he denied that the man was a suspect, merely that he had “critical information”.
The three suspects in custody appear in court in Mamelodi on Wednesday and had also been linked to other crimes and appeared for those too, “pending further investigation”.
He said that although the outrage about the brazen crime was justified, Phahlane said the police’s speedy response needed to be commended and recognised, while the SAPS noted with “serious concern misplaced and/or irresponsible utterances and allegations” that “undermined the mandate of the SAPS” to investigate crime.
He said the statements were demoralising and did not assist the investigation process. He was clearly referring to the fact that, in some quarters, suspicion had fallen on State Security Minister David Mahlobo.
“My rational suspicion is that the State Security Agency (Mahlobo) broke into the chief justice’s office and stole computers,” Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu tweeted on Saturday.
The chief whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen, also tweeted that his money was on Mahlobo and the “kak-handed” State Security Agency being behind the break-in.
Phahlane said the arrested men were not insiders at the chief justice’s offices.
“They are just criminals.”