The Ministry of Police says has noted today’s Constitutional Court judgment that found that part of the national legislation that created the Hawks and disbanded the Scorpions, is constitutionally invalid.
“The official position of the ministry is that we will study the judgement in its entirety, particularly as the judgement specifically referred to Chapter 6A of the South African Police Service Act,” the ministry said in a statement.
The majority of the court found that Chapter 6A of the SAPS ACT 68 of 1(c) 95, as amended, was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, also know as the Hawks. The Constitutional Court has suspended the findings for 18 months to allow government to rectify the legislation.
The ministry said it would adhere to this timeline.
Dianne Kohler Barnard, the opposition Democratic Alliance party’s shadow minister for police says the verdict vindicates objections to disbandment. She says her party will also “closely study the … ruling … on the application brought by businessman Hugh Glenister against the disbandment of the Scorpions. On face value, however, this ruling is a vindication of the DA’s deep and longstanding concerns over the disbandment of the Scorpions – in terms of the effect of this decision on crime-fighting, its impact on the political independence of prosecution processes, and the profoundly flawed Parliamentary process that was followed.
“The Scorpions were enormously successful in their mandate of fighting crime and corruption. They achieved an unprecedented 94% conviction rate. There was no good reason for this unit to be disbanded, but it became clear that the ANC government, and particularly [President Jacob] Zuma’s followers, considered the Scorpions’ effectiveness to be a profound threat. Mr. Zuma himself faced a high-level investigation by the Scorpions.
“The decision to disband the Scorpions was political – a move that was designed to shut down investigations into ANC politicians, and to allow ANC politicians to continue to dispense patronage, as well as engage in corruption. It was one of the most abhorrent decisions this post-1994 Parliament has made.
“The Hawks, a unit set up to replace the Scorpions, do not have the same power as the Scorpions did, and certainly not the same kind of results. We have documented why this is the case – that they lack political independence, adequate resources, and the necessary logistical expertise. The Constitutional Court said today: ‘The main reason for this conclusion is that the DPCI [Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation] is insufficiently insulated from political influence in its structure and functioning.’ The Court also called the new unit ‘vulnerable to political interference’. This bears out precisely what we have been saying.”