D-day for Scorpions, MPs

2008-10-21 00:00

Cape Town — Today is D-day for Scorpions crusader Hugh Glenister.

Two separate courtrooms will decide whether his lonely bid to save the Scorpions from being disbanded have been worth the hundreds of thousands of rands he has spent on his mission.

At 10 am, judgment in his Constitutional Court challenge to stop the unit from being squashed will be passed down. At 3 pm, the Johannesburg businessman will walk into the Cape High Court with his lawyers in another 11th-hour bid to save the unit from being scrapped.

Glenister filed an affidavit in the Cape High Court yesterday in a bid to seek an interdict to stop Members of Parliament who have been investigated for travel fraud by the Scorpions from voting on legislation aimed at disbanding the unit.

The wealthy entrepreneur has made headlines in recent months in his fight to save the efficient crime-fighting unit. In a brave and persistent act of civil activism, he sought an urgent interdict against the government’s plan to scrap the unit. When the Pretoria High Court ruled in May that it does not have the jurisdiction to decide on the application, he filed papers in the Constitutional Court.

Should Glenister succeed in stopping the MPs involved from voting, it could have a turnaround effect on the future of the Scorpions. This is because Glenister claims 220 or more members should be disqualified on the grounds of conflict of interest from voting the Scorpions out of existence.

His case will be argued at 3 pm today — less than 24 hours before the National Assembly votes to pass two bills — the SA Police Service Amendment Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill — which effectively disband the Scorpions and allow for them to be incorporated into the SA Police Service. The move has been opposed by many oppostion parties and civil society groupings.

On Monday, ANC MPs used their parliamentary majority to approve the bills, ending a public debate on the future of the unit.

Glenister who has spent his own money on his legal action, believes it is “outrageous” that some MPs have tried to “get themselves off the hook from essentially stealing taxpayers’ money in Travelgate” — and now don’t believe they have a conflict of interest in voting for the destruction of the organisation”.

In August, Glenister’s attorney, Kevin Louis, sent letters to then National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, asking that MPs investigated in the Travelgate matter recuse themselves from consideration of the two bills .

The Speaker’s office responded on August 26, effectively rejecting Glenister’s demands.

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