I was asleep at time of robbery - alleged Chief Justice burglary mastermind

2017-03-31 16:22
Office of the Chief Justice spokesperson Nathi Mncube briefs the media on the break-in. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Office of the Chief Justice spokesperson Nathi Mncube briefs the media on the break-in. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Johannesburg – The alleged mastermind behind the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice on Friday denied any knowledge about the 15 computers which were stolen from the premises.

Nkosinathi Msimanga, 34, appeared for a formal bail application before Magistrate Lebogang Leshaba at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.

Prosecutor Yusuf Baba told the court that the State opposed bail.

Reading out the investigating officer’s affidavit, Baba said the break-in happened around 02:15 on Saturday, March 18.

The computers contained personal information, financial reports, and details about security systems installed at the homes of the country’s judges. The computers have still not been recovered and are worth R165 000.

Computers containing less valuable information were left behind.

Msimanga allegedly had a conversation with a State witness about selling the computers, and one judge was robbed shortly after the burglary.

"The safety of the judges and employees has been compromised," Baba read.

Granted bail

The investigating officer believed Msimanga could evade bail because it took him a week to hand himself to the police.

Msimanga’s brother Given and another man, Bigboy Yose, were found in possession of an unlicensed firearm and forged identity documents during their arrest.

The Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court granted Yose R1 000 bail on Thursday. The court found no evidence linking the two to the burglary.

Msimanga would interfere with the witnesses if he was released on bail, the investigating officer said in his affidavit.

Evidence showed the crime was well planned.

"Msimanga promised to show the police where the computers were, but he didn’t. The motive of this theft is still unknown and there are outstanding suspects," he said.

Questioned by his lawyer, Sammy Mahlangu, Msimanga said he knew nothing about the computers. He said he had handed himself over at the Boschkop police station, on Mahlangu’s advice.

'I don’t know anything about the computers'

A policewoman had told him that they had CCTV footage that placed him at the office on the morning of the burglary.

"I told them that if they had that, then I will go to court and plead guilty. I told her that if I had any knowledge or information about the crime, I would assist her. I told her that I did not know anything about the computers."

Msimanga said he had been fast asleep when the robbery took place.

"On Friday at around 20:50, I went to fetch my girlfriend at a friend's place and then went home to sleep. On Saturday morning, I went to a funeral. I was sleeping when the robbery took place."

He said he had never made any agreement with police to reveal the location of the computers.

"They forced me to say that I would give them information. They also slapped me, but I did not agree to knowing where the computers were. I don’t know anything about the computers."

'Why would I interfere with witnesses?'

Msimanga said if he was granted bail, he would not endanger the public.

"Why would I interfere with the witnesses? I know in my heart that I did not do the alleged offence."

During cross-examination, Msimanga told Baba that after the crime he had to find a place to "lie low", because he wanted to establish why his brother and Yose had been arrested and why police were looking for him.

"The message of them wanting to kill me was disturbing. I had heard that they had choked my brothers and taken them into bushes. The police told me that I was lucky I gave myself in because had they found me, they would have killed me."

He said he hid at a lodge called Purple Trumpet in Waterkloof, while he consulted his attorney.

The application continues.

Read more on:    chief justice  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  judiciary

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