/ 3 November 2007

ISS: Let police probe Scorpions boss

The police are obliged to investigate fraud and corruption charges against Scorpions boss Gerrie Nel if a criminal complaint has been brought, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Friday.

This would be necessary, even if the complaint was the latest salvo in the police’s ongoing spat with the Scorpions, said Jake Moloi, a senior researcher in the ISS crime and justice programme.

Should the police find substance in the complaint against Nel, they had to ”do the obvious” — criminally charge him and take him to court, said Moloi.

”If there is no substance, the matter must be dropped,” he said.

”That would be the normal thing to do. The police would be failing in their duty if they didn’t do that.”

The Star reported on Friday that Gauteng’s deputy police commissioner Richard Mdluli was conducting the probe, which included two charges brought by Nel’s own investigators.

The evidence against him reportedly included his censure by a magistrate, who found he had apparently displayed partisanship to a colleague who was accused — and later convicted — of sabotaging a multimillion-rand fraud and corruption investigation.

According to the paper, the court found that Nel had made it clear ”that he did not see [or did not want to see] anything wrong with the accused’s conduct”.

Moloi would not speculate on whether this was an attempt to victimise Nel or target the Scorpions.


However, the Freedom Front Plus has called it a police ”witch-hunt” against the Scorpions.

Nel was not only instrumental in cracking the killing of mining magnate Brett Kebble, but also obtained a warrant — later cancelled — for the arrest of police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi for alleged corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice.

The move was a precursor to President Thabo Mbeki’s suspension of National Director of Public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli.

Selebi should have stepped aside until the probe into his activities was finalised ”precisely to prevent him from interfering in the Scorpions’ investigation”, said FF Plus safety and security spokesperson Pieter Groenewald.

”Here is proof now that the police are interfering with the Scorpions’ investigation, as the police can only launch an investigation into the chief of the Scorpions on the authority of Selebi himself.”

Moloi said the speculation surrounding the Nel investigation was reminiscent of the speculation and theories surrounding the suspension of Pikoli.

”I always say … that the right course is to let the investigation take place and decide at the end of it whether there is a case to be made or not … Until that stage, from a legal point of view, that is all we can do.”

He did not think victimisation was at play, but did believed ”certain deductions can be made as to why this happened and as to why this happened now”.

”From a legal point of view we need to be objective; let the investigation reveal what there is; decide thereon if charges are laid or not.”

Moloi described it as ”only human, only natural” to bring together the probe into Nel and his probe into Selebi.

He pointed out in a case of fraud the perpetrator ”must have done something, misrepresented the facts of something”.

‘Politics and similar things are taking place’

However, he added: ”Politics and similar things are taking place and are a challenge prevalent at this time, so it is very easy to start making deductions … ”

The NPA voiced its confidence on Friday that the Nel investigation would not impact on his handling of the Kebble case.

”There is nothing at hand to suggest this investigation will in any way impact on all matters on which advocate Nel is working,” said NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

He said ”no action” had been taken against Nel.

”We will wait for the police to conduct their investigation before pronouncing on any further course of action.”

He said the NPA was not conducting its own investigation into the matter.

The police have been at loggerheads with the Scorpions -‒ formally known as the NPA Directorate of Special Operations — since its inception in September 1999.

What started off as bickering over who got the credit for investigations had by 2005 escalated into such a full-scale turf war that Mbeki appointed Judge Sisi Khampepe to head a Commission of Inquiry into the Scorpions’ mandate and location.

The antagonism intensified with the Scorpions preventing a police officer from making an arrest over an illegal consignment of abalone at the OR Tambo International Airport.

The police then arrested two undercover Scorpions agents conducting an airport sting involving a drug syndicate and cocaine worth an estimated R5-million on the street, claiming they were uncooperative and refused to produce identification.

It was while all of this was going on that the Scorpions lost its boss, the National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka, who resigned under pressure amid allegations of corruption against the then deputy president Jacob Zuma. – Sapa