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03 Jun 2009 18:13
Businessman Hugh Glenister’s campaign to stop the demise of the Scorpions borders on vexatious, a full Bench of the Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.
Senior counsel Willie Duminy said Glenister had placed before the court mounds of irrelevant information which the three judges and others had had to read.
“We have had to spend valuable time reading all of this irrelevant information,” he said.
Duminy, along with advocate Sipokazi Poswa-Lerotholi, represent the country’s president, ministers of police (formerly safety and security) and justice.
They opposed an urgent application by Glenister to stop the transfer of the Directorate for Special Operations (DSO), better known as the Scorpions, to the South African Police Service.
The move amounted to the disbandment of the Scorpions in their present form.
In the application, Glenister contended that the closure of the Scorpions was to stop investigations into high-ranking African National Congress (ANC) politicians.
Senior Judge Siraj Desai presided in the application, together with judges Burton Fourie and Dumisani Zondi.
Duminy urged the court to dismiss the application with costs.
He said the court had to decide whether in fact the purpose of the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Act, as well as the SAPS Amendment Act, both empowering the disbandment of the Scorpions, was to stop investigations involving high-ranking ANC MPs.
If the court ruled that this was the reason for the closure of the Scorpions unit, then an interdict to prevent this happening, as requested by Glenister, was justified. If not, the court had to dismiss the application, and refuse the interdict, he said.
Duminy said the Scorpions’ mandate had only been to stop organised crime, but the unit had not limited its operations to organised crime and had thus exceeded its mandate.
From the inception of the Scorpions, there had been a problem with the overlapping mandates of the DSO and the police.
He said Scorpions investigations had been so effective because the unit had not had to report to a political head, as the SAPS had to do.
Duminy added: “This is why so many people said that the Scorpions were a law unto themselves.”
He said the transfer of the DSO would not put an end to any Scorpions investigations that were already under way.
As Duminy held sway, the presidential 12-gun salute disturbed the proceedings.
Duminy responded: “That’s the state-of-the-nation salute, m’lords, not an applause for my address to the court, although it deserves it.”
Judgement was reserved.—Sapa
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