Parliament begins winding down of Scorpions

Parliament has started winding down the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) controversy-plagued elite crime-fighting unit, the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO)—better known as the Scorpions.

Parliament’s justice, safety and security, and national council of provinces committees met the staff of the Scorpions in Tshwane on Wednesday, they said in a statement released by the NPA.

“Much of the discussion revolved around transitional mechanisms to ensure a smooth and effective transfer of the DSO staff to the new unit to be located within the [South African Police Service],” the committees said.

“Representatives of the DSO are to provide further specific proposals in this regard.”

Describing the meeting as successful and productive, the committees said they told staff about the progress of the DSO Bills and responded to issues raised by DSO staff.

They interacted with staff in other provinces via a video-link.

“Obviously, we understand the concerns and anxieties of the staff about their future.

“We stressed that DSO members acting within their legal mandate are valued and respected, and we need them to contribute to the new organised-crime unit that is to be established.

“It is in our common national interest to ensure that the new unit is more powerful and effective than the DSO and we stressed that we wanted the DSO members to contribute to ensuring this.”

The committees said they would meet with the SAPS on Thursday “to take these discussions further”.

The African National Congress resolved at its national conference in Polokwane in December that members of the Scorpions performing policing functions be incorporated into the SAPS.

This was despite a recommendation by the Khampepe commission that the DSO be retained within the NPA, but that political oversight and responsibility for its law-enforcement component be transferred to the minister of safety and security.

It was later announced that the SAPS Amendment Bill sought to establish a Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation to bring together the police units and DSO units responsible for investigating organised and serious crime.

The National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill created conditions that would allow for the relocation of DSO special investigators to the SAPS to allow for the creation of the new directorate.—Sapa


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