Underworld criminals and underhand cops

2011-04-09 00:00

TO dismantle or not to dismantle? That was the question when, after numerous own-goals by the Scorpions, the African National Congress (ANC) decided to do away with the Scorpions and replace them with the Hawks.

There was a huge public outcry from many quarters of the country but the decision was implemented, thanks to the ANC's majority in the National Assembly.

Just recently, a court issued an order for the Scorpions to be resuscitated, which has thrown a spanner in the works.

The information that has recently been made public about underworld criminals who have high-ranking police officers in their back pockets paints a very bleak picture about the police force. The idea of the Scorpions was a good one in theory, but it was executed incorrectly and was marred by political interference, like anything that has to do with the government and politicians.

Let me put it this way: it was a great idea when they were just prosecuting you and me, but when they started going after politicians and the politically connected, then they had gone too far. It got worse when they were also used as a means to settle political scores.

To this day, we continue to see the remnants of the power struggle between the Thabo Mbeki camp and the Jacob Zuma camp.

While proper procedures may not have been followed when the Scorpions were done away with, it is the likes of Leonard McCarthy who effectively killed the Scorpions. McCarthy and his colleagues were used by politicians and in the end they were left out in the cold.

Some serious changes are needed if our police force and its affiliated institutions are going to fulfil their mandate and not continue to be involved in scandal and illegal activities.

How can we have faith in these institutions when they cannot get the basics right?

Two weeks ago, when the Hawks went to arrest Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, they stormed into a house, broke gates and doors, only to find that Krejcir's house was the one next door. In addition, they had no arrest warrant even though they protested that they did have one. When it was later discovered that they did not have an arrest warrant, they replied that they did not need one.

Self-confessed criminals such as Glenn Agliotti have got off the hook after committing serious crimes after they entered into a plea bargain with the authorities.

This means that people who should be behind bars are walking free.

Such plea bargains have proved costly for the Scorpions as they have involved the really big fish that they were aiming for, who have now got away.

Having underworld criminals benefiting from police intelligence is a huge indictment in a country that has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

The challenge seems to be high-ranking police officers and Hawks officials who are prepared to sell their souls to the devil by assisting rich criminals in exchange for cash and

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