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New head of the police unit replacing the Scorpions, Anwa Dramat, on Tuesday vowed to ‘crush the backbone of organised crime”.
Dramat, a former deputy commissioner of police in the Western Cape who was appointed head of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation last month, told an audience packed with senior police officials and security experts that his only mandate from government was to ‘crush organised crime without mercy”.
Dramat spoke at a birthday function of Primedia’s Crimeline that was launched two years ago to assist the police in receiving phone call and SMS tip-offs from the public.
He lauded the project, saying it was ‘fulfilling” to note that ordinary South Africans ‘have made the fight against crime their terrain of operation”.
Dramat said the DPCI was ready to join South Africans ‘in the battlefields”.
‘The establishment of the DPCI is taking shape. We are hopeful that later next month criminals will start to realise our ability not only to bite, but also to chew. We are strong, capable and well-resourced to hunt any criminal, anywhere, at any time.”
According to the DPCI chief the unit is being sourced to ensure South Africans can ‘enjoy their hard-earned liberty without fear of criminals and international syndicates”.
Dramat said the unit would officially launch next month. He was hopeful that the DPCI would consist of between 600 and 800 members, sourced from the police’s commercial branch, organised crime unit, the Scorpions, the department of home affairs and the South African Revenue Service.
‘We are ready to enter the battlefield as soon as President Jacob Zuma makes the necessary proclamation. Our mandate is simple: crush organised crime without mercy. Deal with the criminals, regardless of their stature or standing. We are ready to execute this task … you can be assured that matters referred to us will be appropriately followed-up and be finalised,” Dramat said.
Dramat, told the Mail & Guardian recently that he would not turn the unit into a spy outfit — amid concerns that his only training and background is in the intelligence services.
Deputy prosecutions boss Willie Hofmeyr was widely tipped as the head of DPCI.
Dramat’s appointment was met with surprise and disbelief by a range of sources in the criminal justice sector.
Most of the disquiet centred on his intelligence background. “What this unit needs is a senior cop who knows how to investigate, not a spook,” said a Scorpions investigator.
A senior Western Cape police officer also had reservations about the suitability of Dramat’s appointment.
“It is a very worrying sign indeed, pointing to the state placing a premium on intelligence rather than on policing. Dramat is a spook. That’s where he comes from. That’s his strength, not good old-fashioned prosecution.”
However, another colleague described him as “moderate, open-minded and very focused”.