New crime unit named

2008-05-14 00:00

Cape Town — Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula has dismissed concerns that there will be a shortage of top investigators by the time the new unit to fight organised crime is up and running.

Nqakula yesterday announced the name of the new unit, which will replace the Scorpions, as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.

Briefing journalists on the work of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Nqakula said the unit will be made up of investigators from the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) and the organised crime unit and commercial branch of the SAPS.

The DSO and the two police units will be phased out to make way for the new division.

He said the new unit will kick in once Parliament has processed the General Law Amendment Bill, which is now before Parliament.

Asked to comment on the exodus of skilled crime-fighters from the Scorpions and from South Africa, Nqakula said he did not believe this will weaken the fight against organised crime.

“We cannot say that because certain people have left we have weakened structures … This is human and it happens all the time.

“In 1993, crime trends were very high and during that time, some people left the South African Police because they were afraid of the unknown. That included highly qualified people. Yet we have a service that has impacted such that crime levels have gone down,” he said.

“We will recruit and ensure that we have the best people available. Even if all the people from the DSO and the police units were to leave … we would still find people equal to the task we want discharged.”

Nqakula also gave assurances that, although the head of the unit will be appointed by national Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, who faces corruption charges, this will not affect the case against Selebi.

“In terms of our legislation, everyone who works in the police is appointed by the national commissioner.

“The responsibility of police officers is to investigate crime and this would include crimes involving people senior to them. This happens all the time … ”

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