I am greatly disappointed at the lack of urgency shown by the police, and the criminal justice system at large, in dealing with crimes that have been committed at the Metro Centro – the headquarters of the City of Johannesburg – over the last few years.

In the most recent incident, 30 computer hard drives were stolen from two departments – Group Legal and Development Planning, on the third and sixth floors respectively.

Desk-top computers were ripped apart and hard drives removed and stolen.

The City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services unit, established that, inside the building, fire exit doors were used to gain further entry, allowing for easy access to both floors using a Goods lift.

It is still not clear how the suspect responsible for the latest break-in gained entry from the perimeter into the Metro Centre, but it was found that the break-in and theft took place between 22:30 and 02:34 on the 24th of January 2022.

What is infuriating is that the suspect is known to police, and the City.

Ironically, this is the same suspect that was involved in a break-in on the 14th of October 2020. At the time, this individual targeted the third, fourth and fifth floors of Block A at the Metro Centre. A criminal case, reference number CAS 347/10/2020, was opened and investigated by the SAPS.

At the time, the suspect was captured on CCTV cameras on the 10th and 11th floors.

On another occasion, she was again identified loitering in the building and was arrested by JMPD officers. The suspect was positively identified and detained at the Hillbrow Police Station.

However, she managed to evade prosecution for malicious damage to property, trespassing/breaking in and theft.

In the latest incident, this suspect was again captured on CCTV cameras. Her identity is known to the SAPS, so is her residential address. I would be surprised to learn that she has not been arrested as yet.

One would consider this an open-and-shut case but the criminal justice system appears incapable of acting with the necessary speed.

I implore the Gauteng SAPS Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela, to ensure that this matter is given the necessary attention. Given that key state institutions and buildings have come under attack in recent years, months and weeks, it is imperative that the SAPS demonstrate its ability to deal decisively with crime.

I assure residents of the City that I will follow up on this matter, to ensure justice is done and that the Rule of Law triumphs once more in the City of Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, stringent security measures will be introduced at the Metro Centre, including limiting the public’s access to sensitive areas around the parameter of the City’s head office and implementing equally stringent management of all possible points of entry.

Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) will share information on the old case as well as the new matter in order to resuscitate the October 2020 case while strengthening the new case.

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Cllr Mpho Phalatse

Cllr Mpho Phalatse is the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, in addition to being a medical doctor.

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