Patients’ files, and everything else, go in Sanca robbery

2015-05-20 09:29
Cookie Manikum from Sanca Pietermaritzburg stands outside the Sanca building on Hoosen Haffejee Street yesterday after it was broken into over the weekend.

Cookie Manikum from Sanca Pietermaritzburg stands outside the Sanca building on Hoosen Haffejee Street yesterday after it was broken into over the weekend. (Jonathan Burton)

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DATA containing confidential information of patients has been stolen during a burglary at the South African National Council for Alcoholism (Sanca) offices on the weekend.

Wiped clean of all their computers, laptops, cash and clinic equipment, the burglars used one of Sanca’s vehicles as their getaway car.

“I discovered our place had been broken into when I arrived for work at around 7.30 am on Monday. I saw the front gate half opened and the garage gate motor had been dismantled. When I looked around, I saw the side doors were smashed open probably with a crowbar,” said Sanca Pietermaritzburg executive director Lin Geber.

Geber said the staff were shocked to find that all their offices were broken into and all their drawers were emptied.

Staff walked in to find that all eight computers and laptops, clinic equipment to the value of R200 000, crockery, a microwave, detergents and their personal belongings were all “cleaned out”. An undisclosed amount of cash was also taken. “I walked in and found the fridge near the exit door. The fax machine was lying outside next to another vehicle they tried stealing. They even stole our lipsticks and perfumes,” said Geber.

Shocked at the “ruthless” robbers, Geber said she cannot believe thieves are targeting NGOs.

“Every penny counts and we are already an organisation without much appeal for funding. This just makes things all the more difficult. We are so heartsore at this brazen attack,” she said.

Secured by Chubb Alarms, Geber said the alarm was not triggered by the burglary and Chubb was in the process of investigating this.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Constable Mtoko Ngobese confirmed a case of housebreaking was opened and is being investigated.

“The theft of the motor vehicle is also being investigated. However, I do believe that the car was recovered in one of the nearby townships,” he said.

Sanca, which consults with around 200 new and long-term patients a month, had to cancel all appointments on Monday as confidential and useful information was stored on the computers that were stolen.

“We are really worried about our data including patient information, payroll and accounting programs. It is very difficult because we deal with highly confidential information and we appeal to whoever has any information to please come forward,” she said.

Sanca has been located at the Hoosen Haffajee (Berg) Street premises since 1992 and deals with alcohol and drug addicts.

Geber is making an appeal to anyone who is willing to donate financially toward CCTV cameras to contact Cookie Manikum on 033 345 4173

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