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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
SA sleeping ministers burgled
Minister Trevor Manuel
Trevor Manuel slept throught the burglary
Burglars have broken into and stolen valuables from the official residences of cabinet ministers while they were asleep in the capital, Pretoria.

The robberies occurred on Tuesday at the shared house of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Education Minister Kader Asmal and also in the house next door of Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad who was not at home.

Doubts are now being expressed about how effective the high-security government residential compound is in Bryntirion which is also used by President Thabo Mbeki and is under close guard by the police's VIP Protection Unit.

Mr Manuel's spokesperson, Logan Wort, told BBC News Online that a laptop computer and camera were stolen from his house.

Mr Wort said that the police are investigating the robbery.

It is unclear what confidential and important material was on the laptop.

No comment

However, the spokesperson for South African Police Services (SASP), Superintendent Selby Bokaba, told BBC News Online that he had read in a local paper that the ministers were burgled but he was not ready to comment on the matter.

"I am working until late at night even at home on the country's crime report to be published later this month - so I cannot leave this important work to discuss burglary or crime in general with the media," he said.

South Africa policeman confronts suspect
Less than 10% of South Africa's violent criminals are convicted

On the same day, 5 August, South African television reported that criminals had mugged US Scientist Professor James Mullins, taking his laptop computer which he said contained years of priceless research into an Aids vaccine.

Just a week before on 29 July, a South African presidential spokesman, Bheki Kumalo was carjacked by nine gunmen outside the home of a friend in Pretoria.

And on 25 July, Deputy Public Works Minister Musa Zondi accompanied by his bodyguard and a driver, was carjacked by gunmen who also stole their money.

The recent security breach in a secured compound of government officials follows a series of burglaries at Acacia Park, a secure parliamentary village in Cape Town, which has a high perimeter fence and spotlights, and is guarded by police 24 hours a day.

The spate of such crimes in recent weeks appears to contrast with President Mbeki's suggestion that police statistics to be released later this month were likely to show "the trend of reduction and stabilisation in priority crimes".

Recent research indicates that police are unlikely to find those responsible, as less than 10% of South Africa's violent criminals are convicted.

Last month the authorities in Johannesburg began dismantling fences erected to halt crime despite protests from residents.

'Priceless' Aids research stolen
05 Aug 03  |  Africa
SA presidential aide mugged
30 Jul 03  |  Africa
SA security gates torn down
25 Jul 03  |  Africa
Pensioner attacked in South Africa
06 Mar 03  |  England
Living in SA's crime capital
11 Apr 02  |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
28 Nov 02  |  Country profiles

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