Hawks break-in: IT thieves target South Africa's elite police

Members of the Hawks unit make an arrest with a branded police car Image copyright South African Police Service
Image caption The Hawks are an elite unit focused on serious crimes and corruption

South Africa's elite "Hawks" police unit has been hit by a mystery break-in at its headquarters in the capital, Pretoria.

A spokesman said thieves made off with hard drives and other computer equipment early on Wednesday.

Hawks sources believe the crime was an inside job rather than a burglary, local media reported.

"No dockets [case files] were stolen," Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told Reuters.

The unit's human resources, finance and supply chain departments had been targeted, he said.

The Hawks - otherwise known as the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation - investigate serious organised and commercial crimes, and high-level corruption.

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Mr Mulaudzi said a forensics team was examining the site, and that it was too soon to say who the thieves were.

South Africa's Eyewitness News observed on Twitter that the break-in comes amid a tussle for control of the unit between its ex-head Berning Ntlameza and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

The IT theft is not the first to hit South Africa's establishment this year.

In March, 15 computers containing information on South Africa's judges and court officials were stolen from the administrative offices of the Chief Justice.

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