Hitmen used advanced tech to disable cameras and spy on whistleblower’s phone

The hitmen accused of gunning down a Gauteng Health Department whistleblower spied on her phone and used remote tech to disable CCTV cameras close to her home to avoid detection.

This is according to a report from the Sunday Times on how the suspects in the assassination of Gauteng Health Department Acting CFO Babita Deokaran were caught.

Deokaran was shot at least five times at her home in a townhouse complex in Winchester Hills in Johannesburg on Monday morning, shortly after dropping her daughter off at school.

The Sunday Times said that the suspects allegedly used remote tech to disable CCTV cameras at a fuel station close to where the shooting occurred.

Some of these cameras supposedly pointed at the complex gate and could be used to identify the suspects.

“They were working fine in the minutes leading up to the shooting and directly afterwards, but not during the murder,” a police officer close to the investigation told the Sunday Times.

One cybersecurity expert said it was possible that the suspects could have hacked the cameras if they were connected to an unprotected Wi-Fi network using a technique called wardriving.

Wardriving is when attackers drive around an area scanning for Wi-Fi networks and probing them for vulnerabilities.

The police officer also said it appeared as though Deokaran’s cellphones, tablet, and computer might have been monitored leading up to the hit.

Deokaran’s would not be the first high-profile hit planned by spying on a victim’s phone.

The murderers of top cop Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear also used location-based services provided by WASPs on Vodacom and MTN’s network to track his movements.

Babita Deokaran, slain Gauteng Health Department Acting CFO

Deokaran was reputed among her colleagues for uncovering irregularities and fraud at the department, and Gauteng premier David Makhura on Wednesday confirmed there was a link between her assassination and the people involved in a dodgy R332-million tender to procure PPE for several hospitals.

Police apprehended seven suspects from KwaZulu-Natal aged between 24 and 31 after tracking one of their vehicles back to a suspect’s rented home in Gauteng.

The case has now been handed over to the Hawks.

One source told the Sunday Times that police called in the help of Fidelity to track down a white BMW 3 series photographed by a neighbour who had spotted its occupants taking pictures of Deokaran’s complex earlier in the week.

They traced pieces of CCTV footage together, which led them to one of the suspects’ rented homes.

While it’s unclear which CCTV cameras tracked the vehicles, one of the major operators of surveillance cameras used by Fidelity in Johannesburg is Vumacam.

The company partnered with Vumacam in 2020 on the rollout of 1,400 pole-fitted cameras to help in combatting crime.

Recently, Fidelity said these cameras have been highly successful in assisting with the recovery of stolen vehicles.

Vumacam cameras are fibre-connected to Teraco’s datacentres, and the feed is streamed in real-time to the Fidelity command and control centre, where it is stored for 30 days.

The system is equipped with intelligent video analytics, including licence plate recognition and real-time detection of abnormal activities.

Now read: Big success in stolen vehicle recoveries thanks to Vumacam

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Hitmen used advanced tech to disable cameras and spy on whistleblower’s phone