probe into scorpions released

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The establishment of the elite corruption-busting Scorpions and its location was constitutional.

This is one of the findings of Judge Sisi Khampepe's commission, which was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki in 2006 to investigate the mandate and location of the Scorpions, officially known as the Directorate of Special Operations.

The commission's report was made public by the Presidency director-general Frank Chikane in Pretoria yesterday.

He said Mbeki had accepted all the commission's recommendations except one, and that cabinet had also endorsed the report.

Chikane said Khampepe found nothing unconstitutional about the unit's establishment and its location under the Justice Department and the National Prosecuting Authority.

But the Scorpions' methods of operation raised a lot of concern. The commission recommended that the unit's investigative function be transferred to the Department of Safety and Security and that the detectives report to minister Charles Nqakula.

The prosecuting section would remain under the Justice Ministry and NPA.

The commission also raised the issue of a lack of oversight of the DSO. Unlike the SAPS, the Scorpions were not subjected to oversight by the Independent Complaints Directorate.

The judge recommended that this be rectified so that the Scorpions' wrongdoings could be scrutinised by the ICD.

Another concern was the unit's Hollywood-style approach and media publicity in dealing with crime suspects, Chikane said.

"They have to be circumspect in the way they deal with suspects," he said.

The unit was also doing work beyond its mandate. "Some elements" of the Scorpions were involved in illegal liaison with international intelligence agencies.

The Browse Mole Report is believed to have resulted from unsolicited liaison with those external agencies.

Chikane said this compromised their investigations and increased the danger of information leakage.

There was tension between the police and Scorpions after the unit's detectives engaged in intelligence gathering. This was the function of the police and National Intelligence Agency.

Chikane said that the commission also noted that some DSO investigators were hired and engaged in sensitive investigations without being subjected to security vetting.

The cabinet has since asked the NIA to vet all officials of the Scorpions.