OPINION

"COSATU welcomes signing of Scorpions Bills"

Spokesperson Patrick Craven says the disbanding of the DSO is a victory for the union federation

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the news that President Motlanthe on Wednesday 28 January 2009 signed the SA Police Service Amendment Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill. This completes the legislative process required for the incorporation of the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) - better known as the Scorpions - into the SA Police Service.

This decision is an important victory for COSATU which has for several years been demanding that this force should be disbanded, in line with the resolutions passed by both our own 9th Congress and the ANC's Polokwane Conference.

The Scorpions had evolved into a separate 'elite' force which was not sufficiently accountable. Its units were being redirected from the fight against organised crime to political campaigns against targeted individuals. It became a law unto itself and undermined the legal rights of those they were investigating. Their activities also increasing breached the necessary separation of functions between investigating crime and prosecuting the criminals.

COSATU is totally committed to the fight against crime, particularly organised crime, which the Scorpions were supposed to be fighting. We agree with ANC Deputy Chief Whip, Bulelani Magwanishe, that the proposed new Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (within the SAPS) will be better equipped for the fight against organised crime, and we welcome his assurance that "the new unit will have more teeth and resources".

The federation will continue to demand that the SAPS, together with the communities and civil society, intensify the war on crime and in a better co-ordinated manner. We shall oppose against any tendency within the SAPS to adopt the Scorpions' bad practices and political bias into its ranks, and shall not hesitate to criticise them if any of their officers abuse people's constitutional and human rights.

Statement issued by COSATU, January 30 2009