Robbers target judges

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

In South Africa, no one is safe. Not even the judges whose job it is to dispense justice. In two separate incidents last month, criminals burgled the homes of two Pretoria high court judges within nine days, leaving their families traumatised.

The incidents occurred at the Irene Glen Estate home of Judge Aubrey Ledwaba and the Khayalami Glen home of Judge Ronny Bosielo on May 20 and May 29, respectively. They are supposedly secure villages with the usual security guards and alarm systems, which were both breached.

In both cases, gangs of about five gunmen each broke into the houses and in one case held the children at gunpoint, but fled empty-handed when police arrived.

Both families blamed the government for failing to provide security for judges at home and work.

Justice department spokesman Zolile Nqayi, said he was not aware of the burglaries and blamed a lapse in security for the incidents.

He told Sowetan yesterday that the department provided security, including bodyguards for all judges.

"They have bodyguards and their homes are secured," said Nqayi.

Ledwaba and Bosielo yesterday said judges were not assigned bodyguards. They said only the judge president of the Transvaal and his deputy had bodyguards.

Nqayi said he would look into the matter first thing today.

"I will have to also check if the burglaries are not related to the cases they were working on or whether it was a common crime that affected everyone. Where security is found lacking, it will be beefed up immediately," he added.

Sowetan visited the judges' chambers on Friday afternoon and found no security guard or functioning security doors leading to the chambers.

The only security was at the checkpoints at the entrance and exit to the building. This confirmed the complaints by Ledwaba and Bosielo whose offices are next to each other in the Pretoria high court.

At Ledwaba's house, the gunmen held the domestic worker, his two daughters, aged three and 10, at gunpoint in the lounge at about 7.45pm. They demanded to know where their father was. One even walked up the stairs to the main bedroom but left when he could not find Ledwaba.

Nothing was taken.

At Bosielo's residence the gunmen forced the kitchen window open. His 26-year-old daughter, who was alone in the house at the time, escaped through another window into the maid's room where she alerted the police.