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Notorious Joburg tech thief’s identity revealed

The thief suspected to be behind a spate of burglaries at various government buildings in Johannesburg over the past two years was a CCTV expert who sold stolen hard drives and other computer hardware on the sideline.38-year old Mandisa Mthembu appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s court this past week after Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers arrested her in the early hours of Monday morning.Mthembu was caught inside the IEC’s offices at the City of Joburg’s Metro Centre.She allegedly attempted to steal hard drives, RAM sticks, processors, and a voter management device, which officers found in a bag in her possession.This came after a security guard spotted her attempting to break open an emergency exit door and called for backup.The Sunday Times reported that Mthembu supposedly acted “deranged” during her arrest.“She was pretending to be crazy and making all sorts of utterances,” said the CoJ forensic unit’s spokesperson, Lucky Sindane.“She said her mom was a witch, and it was her who had sent her to commit witchcraft in the offices.”But the officers were not deterred and apprehended her. It was supposedly the fourth time she had broken into the CoJ’s offices.In its initial statement following Mthembu’s arrest, the city said she was listed as a director of five companies. It has since retracted this part of the statement.According to co-workers of Mthembu who spoke to The Sunday Times, she officially made a living as a CCTV installer.One of her former business partners, Thokozani Simelane, told the publication he had suspected Mthembu was behind a break-in at the Brakpan offices of a prominent bank.The pair had installed CCTV cameras at the offices a day before the incident, and the tools they used were found in the building.Simelane was banned from working on the premises, but the perpetrator was never found.He also told The Sunday Times that he would often find hard drives under the seats of their vehicle, some of which were brand new.“She was known for having a side-hustle of selling hard drives — some used and others brand new,” said Simelane.“When she wasn’t selling hard drives to people, she was selling them to computer shops and [cash stores dealing in pre-owned goods].”Mthembu is also suspected to be behind two break-ins at the Metro Centre in October 2020 and was apprehended during one of the incidents.However, the case was thrown out of court due to a lack of evidence.Her third break-in happened at the Gauteng e-government department offices in the Joburg CBD in March 2021.In that instance, she was arrested, charged with theft, and appeared in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court.She was released on bail but failed to return to court.Before her most recent arrest, she was supposedly also caught on CCTV cameras in the Metro Centre on 24 January 2022.In all five incidents, Mthembu’s primary target appeared to be hard drives

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