Forfeiture unit stings outside mandate

The assets forfeiture unit (AFU) had been acting arbitrarily and unconstitutionally against people alleged to be criminals, the Law Review Project said yesterday.

The assets forfeiture unit (AFU) had been acting arbitrarily and unconstitutionally against people alleged to be criminals, the Law Review Project said yesterday.

The law body was commenting on last week's refusal by the Cape high court of an AFU application for the forfeiture of a car used by repeat drunk-driving offender, Benjamin Kleinbooi.

The car, a Toyota Corolla, was taken from Kleinbooi in 2004, becoming the first vehicle to be seized by the state in a drunk- driving case.

Leon Louw, executive director of the non-government project, said it was to be hoped that the judgment would finally force the AFU to serve the purpose for which it was created.

The unit should have respected an earlier Constitutional Court judgment that said the act should be applied sparingly.

It should have started confining itself to using its extreme powers under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act for offences specified in the act: terrorism, money laundering and racketeering.

"The AFU diverted its attention from its purpose - using extreme powers only in extreme circumstances - to acting needlessly, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally against alleged, but not proven, common criminals." - Sapa

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