Hawks vow to continue crime fight

2011-03-17 22:38

Johannesburg - The Hawks warned criminals they would continue their fight against corruption, while taking steps to rectify legislation in line with a Constitutional Court ruling that they were vulnerable to political interference.

"Criminals should not be under the impression that the Constitutional Court judgement eliminates the work of the Hawks," spokesperson McIntosh Polela said in a statement on Thursday.

"The unit's fight against corruption continues unhindered."

The court ruled earlier that Chapter 6 of the SA Police Service Act, as amended, which enabled the disbanding of their predecessor the Scorpions and their own formation, was constitutionally invalid.

The declaration of invalidity was suspended for 18 months to give Parliament time to rectify the legislation.

The Hawks welcomed the judgment, saying they would take steps to give effect to it and were already reviewing the entire Police Act.

The Hawks fall under the police ministry, which promised it would comply with the timeline set down by the Constitutional Court.

"We want to assure the public that we will adhere to this timeline," ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said.

Until they had studied the entire judgment they would not comment further.


Businessman Hugh Glenister, who launched the application, said he was "shell shocked".

"I am a little bit shell shocked. I was really not expecting this," he told Sapa on Thursday.

Glenister took the case through the courts following a decision taken at the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference that the Directorate of Special Operations (DPCI), known as the Scorpions, be disbanded.

The ANC had repeatedly accused the Scorpions of a political agenda as it tried to prosecute President Jacob Zuma for allegedly accepting a bribe facilitated by his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik and French arms company Thint.

Political agenda

After Shaik's conviction and sentence for corruption and fraud, the Scorpions pursued Zuma and Thint. This was however dropped due to interference in that investigation.

"I am full of the joys of spring," said Glenister, who had cut a lone figure chain smoking during the court recesses of previous hearings on the matter.

He lost several times as parallel objections by political parties and public petitions had no effect on the decision.

Plans went ahead to disband the Scorpions, who fell under the National Prosecuting Authority and justice department, and form the DPCI.

"I can only hope, but I cannot predict, that South Africans will now start tightening the reigns on their politicians at every level, from the municipal to national."

At one point he considered giving up.

"But people were chirping in my ear and making me positive. When battling a lone battle there are times when you get despondent, you just want to walk away and say 'enough'. But human beings have the capacity to inspire others."

Comprehensive analysis

Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel declined to comment and noted the court had directed itself at Parliament, not the justice department, to rectify the legislation.

"I think we would want the opportunity to study that judgment, but also ... the Constitutional Court has directed its order and its relief at Parliament to take action. So I think you should seek Parliament's views," Nel said.

The DA, which is still pursuing the decision to drop charges against Zuma and Thint, said the law which enabled the dissolution of the Scorpions was flawed, and that the Hawks were under-resourced and did not have logistical experience.

The party would provide a more comprehensive analysis of the judgment when they had studied it, said MP Dianne Kohler Barnard.

Made a mistake

Freedom Front MP Pieter Groenewald said: "The Constitutional Court's decision actually confirms that it had been a mistake to disband the Scorpions. The increasing abuse of power in the police also requires that there should be more independence for the Hawks to investigate the police."

In its ruling, the court explained that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and international agreements on combating corruption, which had been approved by Parliament, required that states create independent anti-corruption entities.

The judges said the DPCI's activities must be co-ordinated by Cabinet, and that the statute provides that a ministerial committee may determine policy guidelines for the DPCI's functioning, and for the selection of national priority offences.

This makes the unit vulnerable to political interference, with inadequate safeguards.

"... Conditions of service of the unit's members and in particular those applying to its head make it insufficiently independent. Members thus have inadequate employment security to carry out their duties vigorously; the appointment of members is not sufficiently shielded from political influence; and remuneration levels are flexible and not secured.

"These aspects make the unit vulnerable to an undue measure of political influence."

Victim of a plot

The judges also found the Constitution does not oblige Parliament to place a specialised corruption-fighting unit only within the NPA, where the Scorpions had been situated.

During the Zuma investigation the NPA was dogged by controversy. One of its heads, Bulelani Ngcuka, eventually left after a long-standing impasse over a statement that although they had prima facie evidence Zuma was guilty, they would not prosecute him.

Another NPA head Vusi Pikoli was subjected to an inquiry over whether he was fit to hold office after the unit attempted to arrest former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who is now in the process of appealing a 15-year corruption sentence.

Although the inquiry concluded it could not find Pikoli was unfit to hold office, he was fired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Selebi maintained he was the victim of a plot by the Scorpions.

  • daspoort - 2011-03-17 22:43

    The court ruled what every South African with half a brain cell already knew...

      Kevin Rack - 2011-03-18 05:16

      Exactly JZ has tried to stop the investigations into the top ANC members affairs under the recomendation of Mo Shaik.

  • Grant - 2011-03-17 22:59

    Ok - now re-instate both the Scorpions and the cases that they were busy with. Make the corruot ANC bigwigs sweat!

      Grant - 2011-03-17 23:01

      Oops - before the spelling police arrive - 'corrupt'

      daspoort - 2011-03-17 23:11

      Hahahaha, Grant. So true, some a*sholes' only contribution to these forums are to correct people on their spelling. WTF?? How sad must your life be??

      Felix - 2011-03-17 23:54

      @daspoort, now you can strike your teacher back :)!

      Badger - 2011-03-18 08:43

      @ Felix,,,,or stab the bitch !!

  • Felix - 2011-03-17 23:56

    Yeah, whatever pigeons... Make sure you don't give a statement without permission from the big boss JZ

  • Slapper - 2011-03-18 04:52

    Only targeting those not in the inner circle I bet.

  • Angel - 2011-03-18 06:10

    How many presidential terms allowed under our constitution, anyone know? Trying to work out when Zuma will have time for the court case against him and Thint.

      Angel - 2011-03-18 06:30

      Skip question, irrelevant as the DA will surely reinstate the case and do proper investigation into the arms deal when they take over after the next election.

      Grant - 2011-03-18 09:46

      As many as he wants - he can always take a leaf out of brother bob's book and declare himself president for life. Alternatively, until malema finishes school and is ready to take over - though that may also be for life.

  • RVQ - 2011-03-18 06:48

    Should read Hawks vow to continue to fight ANC's enemies and people that step in their way

  • Wessel - 2011-03-18 06:49

    The 'constitutional court' made the finding then at the same time it becomes part of the political interference to grant 18 months to scheme and 'insert' a chapter into the constitution (supposed to protect the citizens of this country against a cut and paste administration) ....bring on the revolution, we shall then see who run around like chickens with no heads...suppose they will run to would be very funny if it was not so terribly with the constitution to make a wrong "WORK" WTF people?!!!!!

  • Wessel - 2011-03-18 06:51

    The 'constitutional court' made the finding then at the same time it becomes part of the political interference to grant 18 months to scheme and 'insert' a chapter into the constitution (supposed to protect the citizens of this country against a cut and paste administration) ....bring on the revolution, we shall then see who run around like chickens with no heads...suppose they will run to would be very funny if it was not so terribly with the constitution to make a wrong "WORK" WTF people?!!!!!

  • Wessel - 2011-03-18 06:54

    The 'constitutional court' made the finding then at the same time it becomes part of the political interference to grant 18 months to scheme and 'insert' a chapter into the constitution (supposed to protect the citizens of this country against a cut and paste administration) ....bring on the revolution, we shall then see who run around like chickens with no heads...suppose they will run to would be very funny if it was not so terribly with the constitution to make a wrong "WORK" WTF people?!!!!!

      one-way - 2011-03-18 09:25

      Th..TH..THANKSS W..W..Wessie!!!

  • Mnumzane - 2011-03-18 07:16

    Majority musat rule not individuals with money. Constitution need to be amended to disallow individuals to take Parliament rulings to court. We never voted for Businessman Hugh Glenister, so we need to protect our country from individuals with big egos who because they have money then they can challenge something approved by the majority. In Polokwane the majority agreed in disbanding the Scorpions and the majority voted the ANC in 2009 and now is the time for the majority to rule not business individuals who voted for the losers.

      exocist - 2011-03-18 08:14

      Blow it out of your arse you african national zombie, consitution needs to be amended to hang half of your corrupt goverment who can't rule if there lives depended on it

      heebeejeebee - 2011-03-18 08:46

      My friend, with due respect, but you clearly have absolutely no idea how a constitutional democracy works. Parliament drafts the law and then the constitutionality is tested in the courts. That is why we need an independent judiciary. Your so-called "majority" in Polokwane has absolutely no constitutional jurisdiction to change laws. It has to happen in parliament. The fact that you clearly don't grasp this is not a concern to me, but the fact that there are millions more like you, is.

      paulf - 2011-03-18 09:12

      Sorry to say bud but you are wrong. It has nothi ng to do with a majority vote. It is the SA Constitution!!!!

      damascus - 2011-03-18 09:47

      it's the likes of you Mnumzane who are dragging the ANC down the abyss. And the scary thing is that there are a whole lot of you who don't see what these money grabbers are doing to the image of the ANC and eventually, the country as a whole. It's Hugh's right to challenge the 'Polokwane majority', hence he went to the highest court in the land where his concerns about this matter were corroborated.

      Boychild - 2011-03-18 13:03

      Dear Mnumzane, I have no problem with that majority rule, but I have a problem when the minority of the majority (ANC Elitists) make decisions that run contrary to the decision of the majority (South Africans) only to protect themselves and make them invulnarable to being prosecuted for the contemptuous disregard of our Constitution and Laws and the flagrant abuse of their positions and power purely for self enrichment and agrandisement at the cost to real people and leaders in this "democracy" called South Africa. "when good men say and do nothing" is the pitfall as the few elite corrupt kings will then govern this country into the ground.....

      Meanleader - 2011-03-25 14:15

      Dear Lord ... I wish to bring to you attention that you forgot to put a peice of anatomy in Mnumzane ...... a brian . Mnumz num num ... so it follows that if the majority says that ANC officials can be corrupt , then it is OK . You are faulty son !

  • ludlowdj - 2011-03-18 07:19

    How can the Hawks continue Mr Polela, no intelligent member of this society would allow the current members to continue working within the special unit irrespective of what its called. The ruling itself speaks to a lack of political independents and interference by the state into selection of members. The only way that the Unit can survive going forward in its present state will be once all current members have been investigated and cleared of any Government interference in their appointment. The problem for your members here is of course that your unit was created and appointed by Government which already places you and you men at the center of suspicion and distrust. The Government would only have appointed members it was sure it would be able to control. The only quick fix would be to replace all of the current members with the original Scorpion members who were thrown out. In short the HAWKS are viewed by the people of this country as a political appointed ANC special unit (the word "Brown Shirts" springs to mind)

  • Patricia - 2011-03-18 07:22


  • Brandon96end - 2011-03-18 07:31

    Hats off to Hugh, he is the man. LESSON TO GOV... there's always someone who won't take your shit. Get in line you hooligans.

  • Errol - 2011-03-18 07:45

    We can be thankful that our courts are still independent - but for how long? Elections coming up - wake up SA.

  • SamuelMabena - 2011-03-18 07:50

    WAIT A MINUTE! Why do the Hawks need to 'take steps to rectify legislation'??? Can't the ANC tape steps to rather rectify their unconstitutional decisions and leave legislation alone ???

  • briansmith702 - 2011-03-18 08:01

    Please what high profile political corruption have the hawks uncovered so far?? Zilsch.

      paulf - 2011-03-18 08:31

      Because they are influenced by the corrupt Politicians!!!! Zuma and CO....

  • Badger - 2011-03-18 08:41

    MMMmmmmm, Pot calling the Kettle BLACK ????

  • Melly30 - 2011-03-18 08:52

    Ok Hawks - then please break away from the ANC and do some research and start arresting the members WHO are corrupt!!! Follow in the scorpions foot steps... FIGHT CORRUPTION... Make SA better and Safer place for ALL OF US HERE PLEASE!!!

  • n s - 2011-03-18 09:05

    why? what else would they be doing?

  • MJOSANA - 2011-03-18 09:15

    The anc have learn a lesson of studying things before removing

  • Sword&Cross - 2011-03-18 09:42

    NEXT >> ZUMA >> SHAIK >> CELE >> MPSHE >> PAHAD and 197,000 higher echelon ANC elite. Strip them of the stolen wealth, freeze assets directly and via connected and relatives and many to the Court of den Hague for crimes against humanity

  • Meanleader - 2011-03-18 11:17

    Replacing the Scorpions with the Hawks was just another criminal act by Zoomer ." Justice delayed is justice denied " And it doesn't matter this ruling , cos the operatives are wonders of affirmative action one is at risk of getting caught !!!

  • paulf - 2011-03-18 14:06

    It does not happen often that those of us who study the judgments of South Africa’s Constitutional Court are surprised by a judgment of that court. But yesterday the majority of judges of the Constitutional Court surprised many of us when it declared invalid the legislation that created the Hawks. The Hawks, you will remember, replaced the Scorpions who seemingly got into trouble for pursuing corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma. In a majority decision, the court argued that corruption was a serious issue which undermined respect for our human rights. Corruption, said the judges, “threatens to fell at the knees virtually everything we hold dear and precious in our hard-won constitutional order”. The State therefore had a constitutional duty to take steps to combat corruption. If a State like ours fails to take such steps and if it does not create a sufficiently independent anti-corruption body, the State is infringing on the rights to equality, human dignity, freedom, security of the person, administrative justice and socio-economic rights. What was therefore required was to create an anti-corruption unit with the necessary independence to be protected from potential political pressure. Although there are many ways in which the state can fulfil this constitutional duty, if the state fails to create a truly independent corruption fighting body it would be in breach of its constitutional duties. Independent body This is strong stuff. But it gets even better. The court, explaining what this independence would entail, made it clear that unlike the Scorpions, the Hawks did not measure up. First, the court argued that perceptions matter and that a body to fight corruption would only be independent if reasonable people would believe that it was indeed independent. This means that the state would not be allowed to create a body that it claimed was independent but that did not appear independent to the reasonable members of the public: The court also argued that an anti-corruption body would only be independent if it was legally protected and if it had the necessary institutional protection to ensure that its members acted without fear, favour or prejudice. The Hawks was not such an independent body because members of the Hawks were “ordinary” police officials who enjoyed little if any special job security. Political influence Although the majority does not say this, the lack of independence of the Hawks due to this provision is highlighted by the fact that our present Police Commissioner has recently been found to have acted in an unlawful manner relating to a highly problematic lease entered into to rent new Police Headquarters. If the Hawks were to investigate any possible corruption relating to this deal, the Commissioner would, in effect, be able to fire those responsible for the investigation for any of a number of reasons not officially related to the investigation. The Hawks also failed the independence test because its activities are co-ordinated by Cabinet. At present a Ministerial Committee may determine policy guidelines in respect of the functioning of the Hawks as well as for the selection of national priority offences which the Hawks must investigate. The Hawks is therefore not explicitly a corruption-fighting unit. It is a unit that fights “priority crimes” and the politicians can decide what these “priority crimes” should be. This creates a risk of political and executive influence over the Hawks. In other words, at present politicians can in effect decide what crimes the Hawks must investigate and, by implication, what crimes it should stay away from. Parliament was therefore given 18 months to fix the problem. But Parliament itself is now in a fix. Time will tell It is going to be difficult for the executive and Parliament to comply with the judgment by merely tweaking the existing legislation. A completely new institution with far more safeguards to secure its independence will have to be created. Some politicians might not like this, but that is what the Constitutional Court required. Of course, even such a body will only be as good as the people appointed to it. Only time will tell whether a new body that is truly independent will emerge from this saga or whether Parliament or the executive will try and create a more pliant institution. What is certain is that we need such a body to protect us all - rich and poor, black and white - from the corruption that is sweeping our country.

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