Mbeki gives unit the nod

Ido lekota

Ido lekota

President Thabo Mbeki yesterday poured cold water on suggestions that the Scorpions were disbanded because the crime-busting unit was too successful.

Mbeki was responding to allegations by opposition parties that the Scorpions were being disbanded because the unit had succeeded in tackling ANC heavyweights allegedly involved in corruption.

Earlier this week Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula announced in Parliament that the Scorpions would disband and be replaced by a specialised organised crime unit under the South African Police Service.

Mbeki said yesterday the new unit would draw from the specialised skills of former Scorpions members and members of the SAPS organised crime unit.

He said the move was aimed at enhancing the country's ability to fight organised crime.

Legislation to be passed in parliament with regard to the new unit would also have to address the relationship between the reconstituted specialist institution to fight organised crime on one hand, and the intelligence establishment on the other, including the National Intelligence Agency, the National Communications Centre, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the South African Secret Service, as well as Customs.

The specialist unit would continue to be guided by the skills of members of the National Prosecuting Authority and the intelligence service, "ensuring that its operations are prosecution and intelligence driven, to continue the history of the high conviction rate of the Scorpions".