With the move to incorporate the Scorpions into the South African Police Service almost a done deal, concerns have been raised as to whether the new unit would effectively investigate the case against police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
The new directorate for priority crime investigations (DPCI), which replaces the Scorpions, will be run by a deputy commissioner of police, appointed by the Minister of Safety and Security. The DPCI head will be accountable to the national police commissioner.
Opposition parties have questioned how investigators in the new unit would investigate Selebi, who effectively still remains their boss.
Prince Mashele of the Institute for Security Studies yesterday said the structure of the DPCI left room for the commissioner to manipulate systems internally.
"The laws are banking on the integrity of the national commissioner. If he does not have integrity, we can rest assured that the whole unit will not be above board," said Mashele.
"Given that the Scorpions investigated Selebi, now the case is back with the police, I would imagine there would be some complications if the police were to run with the file from the Scorpions," said Mashele.
Selebi was put on special leave by former president Thabo Mbeki after he was charged with corruption.
Selebi was also implicated in a R250million drug-trafficking trial by a state witness, Christiaan Alblas, who said he overheard his accomplices saying that an alleged gangster, 'the Landlord', who was friends with Selebi, would protect them from prosecution.
Parliament has already passed the NPA and SAPS amendment bills, which allow for the formation of the DPCI. The bills are currently being discussed by the National Council of Provinces.
The ANC has a majority in the NCOP and is expected to push the bills through.
Mashele also pointed out that the bills allowed the minister and commissioner to quietly agree that a particular investigation should not proceed.
"We may have more situations in the future where the police do not proceed with investigations," said Mashele.
Selebi, whose contract runs until June next year, has reportedly been visiting police headquarters regularly since he was suspended. Selebi told a weekend newspaper that there was nothing wrong with him visiting acting police Commissioner Tim Williams.
This has led to fears that once the DPCI takes over the investigation into Selebi, it will come under pressure to drop the case.