Armed men in police uniforms steal high-profile case documents

2008-04-15 00:00

Johannesburg — Documents related to “high-profile cases” were stolen from the Johannesburg High Court by a heavily-armed gang wearing police uniforms on Sunday evening.

A reliable source told Beeld that some of the documents were related to the charge against Ekurhuleni Metro police chief Robert McBride.

Another stolen document was related to a trial, which was meant to start on Monday, of a R46 million bank heist in the centre of Johannesburg.

About 12 men wearing police uniforms and reflective jackets, and armed with, among other things, R5 rifles, entered the court building under “false pretences” on Sunday at about 9.30 pm, advocate Catherine de Beer, SC, director of public prosecutions in the Witwatersrand local division, told Beeld yesterday.

Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Julia Claassen said security officers at the main entrance allowed the “police” inside because they said they were investigating a charge of rape.

The men overpowered and tied up the security guards and locked them in a toilet before forcing the head of security, who was in the control room, to take them to the other guards in the court.

The court’s security system, including closed-circuit television cameras and alarms, was disconnected, Claassen said.

A safe containing “important documents” was stolen from the chief registrar’s office, then the robbers kicked open the door of a senior advocate’s office on the 12th floor.

“Certain sensitive documents of two cases that we definitely know of were stolen …” De Beer said.

She declined to deny or confirm that some of the documents were related to the charge against McBride.

Shortly afterwards, two Metro police officers came across the group of men in police uniform outside the court and two vehicles raced off, Metro police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Winnaar said.

The Metro police followed, but the vehicles’ occupants fired at the Metro vehicle and sped away.

The cases will not be scrapped from the roll, De Beer said.

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