OPINION

Nqakula’s statement on the Scorpions

Extract from speech by Minister of Safety and Security, February 12 2008.

Organised crime, as you noted on Friday, Cde President, is a big problem. Drug peddling is part of organised crime; so fraud; trafficking in people; theft of marine and mineral resources; theft of firearms and vehicles; armed robberies; trafficking in endangered species, and theft of copper cables. I have not exhausted the list but, all of the types of organised crime I have referred to affect our people one way or the other.

A revamped criminal justice system must be able to deal with organised crime. It must establish a seamless interconnection between investigations and arrests; prosecutions and sentencing, and imprisonment and rehabilitation. It must be resolute in its campaign to stop organised crime. There must be no mercy for the organised criminal gangs who are undermining the safety and security of our people.

What you referred to Cde President as the "holistic approach towards revamping the criminal justice system in its totality" is a project that must lift up the question of organised crime as one of its main priorities.
We need proper measures to deal with organised crime. We need better human and material resources to achieve our goal in the fight against all crimes, especially organised crime.

You indicated on Friday, Cde President, that there would be interfacing before the end of March between government and parliament on legislation that we require further to enhance our capacity to fight organised crime. You said:

"What will continue to inform us as we take this step will be the absolute commitment of government to fight organised crime and improve the management, efficiency and coordination of our law-enforcement agencies."

You mentioned in your address the Directorate of Special Operations, also-known-as the Scorpions, one of the law-enforcement agencies that handle organised crime. The other one is the Organised Crime Unit of the South African Police Service.

The DSO has been discussed within the ANC many times since its establishment. The discussions covered such questions as to whether the unit was doing its work in accordance with the dictates of its mandate; the way it carried out its investigations; our belief that there is merit in keeping investigative units separate from the prosecuting services for better monitoring, command and control, and whether it was proper to locate the investigative arm of the DSO within the prosecuting services.

It is now history that the matter was subsequently referred for adjudication to the Khampepe Judicial Commission.

The ANC took the matter to its Policy Conference last year for further discussion and presented a recommendation to the Polokwane National Conference for the dissolution of the Scorpions and the redeployment of its investigators to the South African Police Service for central command and control and the improvement of the coordination of the work of all law-enforcement agencies that deal with organised crime.

The ANC, therefore, is not reckless when it pilots a move to change for the better the strategies and tactics that are necessary to fight crime.

We are not averse in the ANC to revisiting our stance in the face of changes in the tactical terrain to produce better circumstances for our people. We are a dynamic organisation that has always seized the moment to rise to higher levels. That is why we continue to occupy the high moral ground.

The ANC is not reckless when it determines that the fight against organised crime requires a re-look and the better utilisation of the services the country has better to be able to deal with that scourge in a better coordinated manner under the aegis of a single command and control point.

We want to place on the table, therefore, a proposal for the creation of a better crime fighting unit, to deal with organised crime, where the best experiences of the Scorpions and the police's Organised Crime Unit will be merged. The best investigators from the two units will be put together, under the South African Police Service, as a reconstructed organised crime fighting unit. The Scorpions, in the circumstances, will be dissolved and the Organised Crime Unit of the police will be phased out and a new amalgamated unit will be created.

We note with pride the good work that has been done in the past by the law-enforcement agencies and the many successes scored in the fight against organised crime. Both the police and the Scorpions have done well in that respect. There are many criminals who are in jail serving long sentences, after they were busted by the crime fighting units.

This is an extract from the prepared speech by Charles Nqakula, Minister of Safety & Security, during the debate on the President's State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly, February 12 2008