Parly gets robbed again

2017-08-06 06:01

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Parliament has been burgled again. This latest crime comes just a few months after the SABC reported a robbery having taken place in its offices there. That embarrassing episode poured scorn on the elevated security features which were recently installed in the House.

This time, not only was a computer stolen, but ammunition has also disappeared – raising questions about how it was brought to Parliament, which is a designated gun-free zone with strict security, including gun lockers at its entrances.

City Press has learnt from four separate sources that ammunition was taken during the break-in. The criminal(s) targeted an office in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) building.

A source describes the missing items as “two empty fire magazines and 64 empty bullet casings” from the drawer where they were kept.

Dismissing these claims, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said: “Rumours that ammunition was removed during the break-in are untrue.”

However, he confirmed that a break-in had occurred in the early hours of Monday morning during which an assailant, caught on CCTV cameras, broke a window to gain access into one of the NCOP offices.

He said the office in question was locked on Friday, July 28, at about 18:00, but when its occupant arrived on Monday morning, he found a computer keyboard and monitor “had been removed, filing cabinets ransacked and documents stored in them had been scattered on the floor of the office”.

Mothapo said CCTV footage of the area outside the building showed that an intruder had gained entry to the office through a window overlooking Government Avenue, where a closed shutter on the window was opened and the window broken to enable entry to the office. The shutter was closed again when the intruder left at about 01:53, “presumably to delay detection of the break-in”.

This contradicts information from three City Press sources, who claimed that, in fact, two offices were broken into. They said the intruder or intruders ransacked the one office and stole ammunition from the other.

This was the second recorded break-in in Parliament in four months. In April, the SABC’s offices were broken into and at least five computers used by journalists were stolen, despite strict security at all entry points in the institution.

There was no sign of forced entry into the SABC newsroom and, according to the corporation, police are still investigating the incident.

This week, Mothapo said Parliament’s security services remained on alert and that the surveillance system was capable of immediately detecting and identifying such unlawful acts.

“We have no doubt that the identified culprit will be swiftly brought to book,” he said, adding that with harsh action from the justice system, a message would be sent to would-be criminals.

Mothapo also said the police and other relevant state agencies would revise measures currently in place to ensure that similar security breaches did not occur.

The break-in in Parliament is the latest in a string of high-profile robberies at state institutions. It follows recent similar incidents at the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks, and at the Office of the Chief Justice.

Read more on:    parliament  |  crime

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