"A bitter pill" - Pieter Groenewald on the Scorpions Bills

Speech by the Freedom Front Plus MP Parliament, October 23 2008

In the debate in the National Assembly in 2000 about the creation of the Directorate for Special Investigations/Operations (DSO) or Scorpions, the Minister of Justice (PM Maduna) says the following:

"We are deliberately and purposefully creating a highly skilled, highly competent and unique unit to complement our existing law-enforcement agencies, as part of our concerted effort to combat crime and to ensure that criminals meet with the full force of the law. "The Directorate of Special Operations will be unique in the sense that it will form part of the prosecuting authority. It will provide it with the finely tuned investigative capacity which will focus on prioritised criminal offences... [Hansard, 31 Oct. 2000, col: 7165 & 7166].

There is no doubt that the purpose of the creation of the Scorpions (DSO) was to create a unique, effective and specialised unit, which could combat priority crimes with prosecutorial driven investigations.

The successes of the Scorpions proved with distinction the reason for their existence. The fall of the Scorpions is however caused precisely by these successes and the professional jealousy between the Police and the National Prosecuting Authority. Precisely that which the Freedom Front Plus warned against with the establishment of the Scorpions. This jealousy caused politicians in the ANC to choose sides. This situation was aggravated even more especially by their successes with investigations of high profile politicians such as Tony Yengeni, MP's who had committed travel fraud, Jacob Zuma and the former Commissioner of Police, Jackie Selebi.

Suddenly the ANC questions the constitutionality of the Scorpions as part of the National Prosecuting Authority. The ANC's argument has consistently been that the Constitution determines that there may be only one Police Service.

The Question as to the Constitutionality of the Scorpions as part of the national Prosecuting Authority was however thoroughly argued by the Khampepe Commission.

Judge Khampepe makes the following finding:

"I am of the view that there is nothing jurisprudentially unsound in conferring law enforcement responsibilities to any agency other than the SAPS.[Khampepe-report p. 124.].

The reasoning that the Constitution determines that only one single Police Service may exist and therefore the Scorpions have to be dismantled and a new unit has to be formed within the SAPS is therefore unfounded and wrong.

With the run-up to the 51st National Conference of the ANC it only had praise for the Scorpions and held it up to the conference attendees as part of the successes of the ANC in the combating of crime.

The governing ANC states it clearly in its resolution at its 52nd National Conference on 16 to 20 December 2007 in Polokwane that:

"6. The constitutional imperative that there be a single Police Service should be implemented.

8. The Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) be dissolved."

The rationale for the dismantling of the Scorpions is not a decision based upon merit by the ANC but a political decision based upon the incorrect interpretation of the Constitution of South Africa. It is also clear that the political attitude of the ANC towards the Scorpions had changed from one of praise in 2002 to one of wanting to urgently destroying it in 2007. This urgency for the destruction of the Scorpions can be nothing other than political vengeance against political opponents.

Former President Mbeki said the new unit should be better than the existing Scorpions. The reality is however that with the new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations the essence of the prosecutorial driven investigations will be lost. Precisely that which was the essence of the successes of the Scorpions. The new unit is therefore definitely not better than the Scorpions, but worse.

With the first reading debate of this bill, the honourable Y Carrim said that the people of South Africa would be given an opportunity to give their opinions. At the start of the portfolio committee meetings, the honourable Maggie Sotyu said to the media: It does not matter what the people say, the decision taken at Polokwane will be enforced. That is precisely what is happening here today.

The public should not allow themselves to be misled by certain amendments which have been made. It is merely the sugar coat over the bitter pill. The Polokwane decision is now in reality being enforced. The public was misled by thinking that they would be listened to. The process was merely followed to prevent a court case.

It is ironic that in the debate with the establishment of the Scorpions (DSO) through the Amendment Bill on the National Prosecuting Authority in 2000, the current Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr. Johnny de Lange said in the National Assembly:

"It is very important that we do not politicise the issue of, particularly, crime in this country and that we should send out one clear message to the criminals in this country that we will keep on chasing them, keep on hunting them down - and get rid of them as soon as we possibly can in this country." [Hansard, 31 Oct. 2000, col. 7170]

Today the ANC is saying to South Africa:

- We do politicise the issue of, particularly, crime in this country and we send out one clear message to the criminals in this country that politics of the ANC is on their side!

With the passing of this Amendment Bill the law-abiding citizens of South Africa are the losers and the criminals the winners.

The Freedom Front Plus does not support these two Amendment Bills and notes its serious objections to it.

This is the text of the speech by Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus MP, in the debate on the legislation dismantling the Scorpions, National Assembly, Cape Town, October 23 2008