South African police said on Wednesday they arrested three people linked to a suspected burglary last week, that targeted the president of the Constitutional Court, causing intense political controversy.
The three suspects were arrested in Mamelodi, a township on the outskirts of the capital Pretoria, the head of the police, General Khomotso Phahlane, told the press. They were to be presented before a judge on Wednesday, he added.
On Saturday, burglars broke in to the offices of the country’s chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, in Johannesburg and carried fifteen computers containing, according to the authorities, sensitive information on some 250 South African magistrates.
The robbery occurred two days after a critical ruling against the government by the Constitutional Court. In the ruling, the highest judicial body in the country slammed the government for its “incompetence” in a crisis that threatened to question the payment of social benefits of 17 million people.
The two main opposition parties, said they were concerned about the troubling coincidence of the burglary and accused the African National Congress (ANC) government, and in particular Security Minister David Mahlobo of being behind the break in.
General Phahlane denounced the charges on Wednesday, claiming that those arrested were “only criminals”. He also said that “unfounded and foolish allegations against any member or official of the government” were mere speculation
The head of the Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary group, John Steenhuisen, however persisted in the accusations against Mr. Mahlobo. He published a column entitled “Why I do not trust David Mahlobo and the National Security Agency” on Wednesday on the online information site The Maverick.
The police chief said other arrests were expected in the case, but that the stolen computer equipment had still not been found.