Home News R3 million blow: Trust fund offices looted, trashed

R3 million blow: Trust fund offices looted, trashed

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Extensive damage of over R3 million was incurred when the Mme Re Ka Thusa Trust Fund offices in Chapel Street in Kimberley were broken into.

The Mme Reka Thusa Trust Fund offices in Chapel Street were broken into. Pictures: Supplied

EXTENSIVE damage of over R3 million was incurred when the Mme Re Ka Thusa Trust Fund offices in Chapel Street in Kimberley were broken into.

The fund was established by the Northern Cape provincial government to assist women in starting and growing their businesses.

The marketing and communications officer at the trust fund, Tefo Zitha, said the offices were vandalised, while brand new laptops, desktop computers and equipment, a water dispenser, microwave oven, chairs, printers and branded tablecloths were among the items stolen.

“We returned to office on January 8 after the festive season holidays to find that all our valuable assets were stolen. The air conditioner, alarm system and CCTV cameras were broken, while our printers, desktops and telephones were damaged,” said Zitha.

He added that they had recently purchased 165 laptops, along with printers and wi-fi routers, that were supposed to be distributed to women starting up their own businesses.

“It will cost R3.1 million to repair the damages and replace the stolen goods. We request the public to be vigilant as they may be offered some of the stolen items for purchase.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support women in business and will resume operations in due course. We may be contacted on 068 228 4358 as the office line is currently unavailable.”

The manager of Mme Reka Thusa Trust Fund, Gladys Motshele, said that Operation Wanya Tsotsi and Operation Fiela managed to retrieve some of the stolen goods within 45 minutes of being alerted to the break-in.

“We were overwhelmed and heartbroken and didn’t know what to do as the trust fund was set up by the Office of the Premier and funded by provincial government to empower women to become economically active by providing them with the necessary tools and to promote women-driven enterprise development. It took us almost 12 years to be where we are today,” said Motshele.

She added, however, that the setback would not deter them from their activities.

“We will launch the women digital enterprise capacity building project in February in co-operation with Absa Bank. The premier has pledged to give each beneficiary R10,000 and the programme will continue.”

Motshele said that they would continue to operate from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) offices at the Frances Baard branch from January 15.

Pantsi Obusitse from Wanya Tsotsi indicated that some of the people who had bought the stolen goods were reluctant to hand them over.

“They insisted on being refunded for the goods. Fortunately, we had the manpower to retrieve a number of stolen items. We will draw up an inventory and return them to the trust fund.

“We make an urgent plea to the community, community crime fighters and the police to work together and play an active role in preventing criminal activities, within the confines of the law.”

The chairperson of Operation Fiela, Bishop Louw, said they managed to retrieve 16 laptops, three computers and three printers during a joint operation with Operation Wanya Tsotsi on January 10.

“We are continuing to search for more of the goods. It is disappointing that businesses are buying stolen goods. How do we help them when they are buying stolen goods? This is not a one-man show.”

Operation Wanya Tsotsi and Operation Fiela handed over some of the stolen goods that were retrieved. Picture: supplied

Police spokesperson Sergeant Timothy Sam said the Kimberley police had arrested seven suspects who were in possession of suspected stolen items.

“A case of business burglary was opened when it was discovered that the business establishment had been broken into in Chapel Street. Preliminary investigations indicate that the business establishment was closed on December 22, 2023, for the festive season holidays. The business personnel returned to work on January 8 and found that their offices had been burgled. Numerous office electronic devices were missing. The police were then informed.”

Sam added that the suspects were expected to appear in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

The Mme Reka Thusa Trust Fund offices in Chapel Street were broken into. Pictures: Supplied

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