Zille: Why disband effective Scorpions?

2008-01-24 00:00

Cape Town — Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has written to Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla, asking her to explain why the Scorpions are being disbanded.

In a statement yesterday, Zille called for an explanation on the government’s "about-turn" on the Scorpions, saying there has not yet been any clear answer as to why collapsing an effective corruption-fighting unit into the SAPS is in the public interest.

"The director-general of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Speaker of the National Assembly have been quite clear that they will do all in their powers to get legislation passed that will see the Scorpions disbanded by June. This is the deadline set by the ANC at its conference in Polokwane," Zille said.

"What is not clear is the logic behind destroying an effective corruption-busting force. Since the Scorpions were established in 2001, the unit has made nearly 2 000 arrests, finalised some 1 300 investigations and seized R1 billion worth of contraband. It also has an impressive conviction rate of 85%."

Zille said that, in her letter, she has asked the minister to explain:

o Why disbanding the Scorpions is deemed to be in the public interest and how this will assist the government to combat corruption;

o Why government is doing an about-turn on the 2006 cabinet decision, reaffirmed by the president at his 2007 State of the Nation Address, to endorse the Khampepe Commission’s recommendation to retain the Scorpions within the National Prosecuting Authority; and

o What would happen to cases that are currently being investigated by the Scorpions, particularly those involving members of the SAPS.

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