ACDP: Public must atttend Scorpions briefing

The public should attend the presentation of the National Prosecuting Authority’s annual report to Parliament this week to show their sense of betrayal at the dissolution of the Scorpions, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said on Sunday.

“The ACDP has no doubt that members of the public will be able to judge for themselves as to how successful the Scorpions have been in fighting crime and corruption in South Africa ... ” ACDP MP Steve Swart said in a statement.

“All indications are that the Scorpions report will once again show the glowing success of this unit, and that the ANC’s allegation that the combination of prosecution and intelligence has led to an abuse of power, is totally unfounded and without substance.”

Swart said prosecutor-driven investigations with an intelligence-gathering capacity, independent of the police, should not be tampered with, particularly in view of the crime and corruption in South Africa.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told Parliament on Tuesday that the Scorpions and the police’s organised crime unit would be disbanded to form a “reconstructed” unit.

The “best experience” of the two bodies would be merged in a “holistic” revamping of the criminal justice system, which would prioritise organised crime.

“We need proper measures, better human and material resources to achieve our goals in the fight against all crime,” Nqakula said.

The ACDP slammed the move as “disgraceful”, particularly after the Khampepe Commission’s rejection of Nqakula’s suggestion that there be “a single police force” and that Scorpions therefore be incorporated into the police.

“It is very clear that there is no constitutional reason to disband the Scorpions, and that the real reason why the ANC took this decision is because the unit has been highly effective in investigating high profile political leaders…,” said Swart.

‘Patent lack of clarity’

As far as the Democratic Alliance was concerned, claims that closure of the Scorpions was part of the review of the criminal justice system were “simply a weak attempt to retrospectively justify a move that has no rational basis”, it said in a statement on Sunday.

“The patent lack of clarity, purpose and justification indicates that government has no clear and well-thought-out plan of action, and is simply trying to think on its feet,” said DA justice spokesperson Tertius Delport.

He said the DA would be asking why the Khampepe Commission recommendations endorsed by the Cabinet in 2006, had been disregarded and why statements by Mbeki and Nqakula on the matter were at odds with each other.

It would also ask why the Scorpions would be disbanded to create a unit which would play exactly the same role; how this unit would avoid the same challenges faced by the Scorpions; and why the government would cooperate better for this unit when it had failed to do so for the Scorpions.

“These questions are just some that need to be answered before the public’s concerns can be laid to rest,” said Delport.

“The DA will fight the move to close the Scorpions and reject any attempt to couch the closure as an improvement,” he said. - Sapa

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