DA: 2/3 vacancy rate in cop unit

2009-05-27 21:33

Cape Town - The DA on Wednesday demanded Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa reveal how many investigators would join the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), which replaces the Scorpions and is said to have a two-thirds vacancy rate.

Spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said she had written to Mthethwa to ask how many Scorpions staff members had agreed to move to the new unit by Wednesday, the deadline for transfers.

The figure last week stood at 137, suggesting that the new elite unit established to fight organised crime was battling a vacancy rate of 68%, she said.

Police spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi has dismissed the DA's calculations as "scary statistics".

Well-oiled machinery

"We are talking about well-oiled machinery. We are so well-oiled that the capacity we have is like using a sledgehammer to kill an ant," he said of the new unit last week.

But Kohler-Barnard said the statement was "wholly inaccurate" and urged Mthethwa to "desist from playing down the seriousness of the staffing problems within the DPCI, and tackle the problem head-on by developing a proper strategy for recruiting and training new investigators".

The government confirmed this year that the Scorpions had suffered an exodus of senior staff, with many leaving because they felt uncertain of their future given the imminent demise of the unit set up by former president Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

Approved by selection panel

Scorpions staff could not automatically join the DPCI, which would replace it on July 1, but had to be approved by a selection panel.

Earlier this year Deputy National Directorate of Public Prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr told MPs that the staff shortage could impact on certain investigations.

DPCI would also draw its staff from anti-corruption units in the government.

The DA said it wanted to know who would fill the gaps left in these units if some 300 of their members moved to take up still vacant positions at DPCI.

Struggle veteran Anwar Dramat had been appointed to head DPCI.