Khampepe Report

2008-05-08 00:00

After a two year delay the government has released the Khampepe Report on the Scorpions, South Africa’s elite detective unit. The report indicates that the unit is “as valid today as it was at conception” with crime levels making it essential that the Scorpions should continue as an essential component of law enforcement. At the same time Judge Sisi Khampepe noted with disapproval the bitter conflict between certain high-ranking officials of the Scorpions and the South African Police Services (SAPS), recommending that they put duty above personal issues. Here was a management problem that should have been dealt with briskly by government intervention and through appropriate disciplinary procedures. Instead, it was allowed to fester.

The report has been released in the very week that legislation dealing with the disbandment of the Scorpions has been tabled in Parliament. The declared intention is to integrate the work of the Scorpions into that of the SAPS, thereby enhancing the fight against crime.

Opposition parties are reacting vigorously with the accusation that the real purpose is partisan and that the ANC is elevating its own interests above those of the people by closing ranks to protect its members from possible investigation for corruption. The spectre of Jacob Zuma’s trial in August looms large in the current debate.

Hard on the heels of these events comes the announcement that Leonard McCarthy, head of the Scorpions’ crime fighting unit, has been appointed by the World Bank to lead its anti-corruption initiative globally. This is high tribute, at a significant international level, to the perceived success and integrity of the Scorpions in its determination to contest crime without fear or favour. Once again this country loses a skill and a resource in one of its citizens that will benefit the wider world instead.

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