South Africa’s acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane has brushed aside conspiracy theories on the theft of 15 computers containing sensitive personal information from the office of the Chief Justice in the Johannesburg’s suburb of Midrand, APA has learnt.The computers‚ some containing sensitive information on the country’s 250 judges‚ were stolen from the human resources section of the office on Saturday.
Phahlane told a radio programme on Monday that the police would ignore “baseless and unfounded” allegations about the burglary and focus on establishing who had entered the offices‚ what they knew about the security system and what was taken from the complex.
“Our (mandate) is not to focus on rumours; ours is to investigate a crime‚” he said.
Opposition political parties and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) said the burglary was highly suspicious.
CASAC executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said the “incident may mark a crucial turning point in our constitutional democracy.”
“It is a potential ‘Watergate moment’‚ in which the independence of the judiciary is not just undermined but brazenly challenged. We must act to guard its independence which is key to ensuring our democracy is protected and sustained,” Naidoo said.
The Watergate scandal‚ which unfolded in the 1972‚ saw burglars break into the Democratic Party’s national committee headquarters at Watergate Hotel. The robbers’ arrests exposed a political dirty tricks campaign led by President Richard Nixon and his Republican Party.
South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance has thrown its suspicion on state agents as responsible for the burglary but the ruling African National Congress has dismissed this as a wild allegation.