Zuma: Hawks must have some govt control

2014-05-04 13:06


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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has suggested accountability would be lost if a Constitutional Court bid to have the Hawks declared an autonomous unit from the police was successful, the Sunday Independent reported.

"However serious the threat of corruption and however dire the need for an independent DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] to avoid government shielding itself against policing of corrupt members, the Hawks cannot be an absolutely independent stand-alone unit," said Zuma - in court papers submitted in response to a bid by the Helen Suzman Foundation and businessman Hugh Glenister to get rid of legislature governing the Hawks.

"Without some control, accountability is an empty concept," Zuma said in his submission.

The foundation and Glenister seek to have the entire SA Police Service Amendment Act declared invalid and inconsistent with the Constitution.

The two parties believe the Hawks are not adequately independent because they fall under the police and therefore executive government control.

Unit ‘insulated’ from influence

In his submission Zuma said the court "cannot trench upon the separation of powers and aim to influence the conduct of the legislature and executive branches of government".

In their submissions, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the Hawks as a "dedicated anti-corruption unit" was "insulated" from executive influence and able to "function independently".

The government representatives want a judgment last year by the Western Cape High Court declaring sections of the amendment act invalid to be set aside and to have Glenister's and the foundation's leave to appeal refused.

At the time, in the high court case, Judge Siraj Desai ruled that sections of the act were "inconsistent with the Constitution, and invalid to the extent that they failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [the Hawks]".

ConCourt to hear bid on 15 May

Glenister has been involved in court action around the replacement of the Scorpions with the Hawks, since the former's disbandment in 2008.

The Scorpions - or Directorate of Special Operations - was an investigative unit which fell under the jurisdiction of the National Prosecuting Authority.

The SA Police Service Amendment Act was the government's response to a 2011 Constitutional Court judgment that found invalid sections of the legislation which established the Hawks crime-busting unit.

However, Glenister and the Suzman foundation have continued their court action in the years since, arguing that the amendments were not sufficient to insulate the Hawks from political interference.

The most recent bid will now be heard in the Constitutional Court on 15 May.

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Read more on:    police  |  hawks  |  nathi mthethwa  |  jeff radebe  |  jacob zuma  |  hugh glenister

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