Joburg municipal offices burgled, vandalised to stop digitisation

By Nicole McCain for News24

A municipal office in Johannesburg has been robbed and 20 computers damaged.

It was the second incident in less than two weeks, and according to the City of Johannesburg it was an attempt to thwart digitisation.

On Monday, the City’s building development management staff discovered that their office, on the 6th floor of the Metro Centre in Braamfontein, had been robbed and 20 desktop computers vandalised.

On 14 January 2022, the building was also burgled and six desktop computers were damaged, said Mayoral Committee Member Belinda Echeozonjoku.

“Both incidents followed the same modus operandi – a burglary resulting in the theft of hard drives, processing units and memory chips. Investigations are under way by the SA Police Service and the City’s Group Forensics and Investigation Services,” said Echeozonjoku.

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She described the burglaries as “destructive acts” that were “criminal” and said the City did not take the matter lightly.

“These burglaries and acts of vandalism are a clear indication that there is a pushback from individuals who are against the digitisation of the building plan application process recently introduced by Development Planning. I am even more disappointed to have received allegations from members of the public [that] internal staff… have expressed their dislike of the online application system,” Echeozonjoku said.

The construction permit management system, which Development Planning is currently implementing, is a new web-based building permit system to modernise and streamline the Site Development and Building Plan approval processes.

Echeozonjoku said:

We are aware that there are individuals who previously benefited from the inefficiencies of our processes, who are not particularly happy with the implementation of the digital platform.

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