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Friday, October 16, 2009

South Africa: Scorpions Make Way for the Hawks

Ernest Mabuza

Johannesburg — THE Scorpions are officially no more, and in their place the Hawks yesterday officially took over to combat serious organised crime, serious commercial crime and corruption.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, the official title of the Hawks, yesterday took over 288 cases that were being investigated by the Scorpions.

Unlike the now-defunct Scorpions, the Hawks' investigations will not be led by prosecutors, but the National Prosecuting Authority announced yesterday it was going to establish a dedicated component of prosecutors to support the Hawks.

Most of the special investigators from the Scorpions have been transferred to the police. Statistics show that 218 of 244 Scorpions investigators were transferred to the police: 51 to the organised crime unit, 61 to the commercial crime unit and 106 to the crime intelligence unit.
The transfer was an interim arrangement pending an approved structure for the Hawks.
The organisational structure of the directorate has not been finalised. It is envisaged that the functions of the police's organised crime unit, commercial crime unit and the hi -tech project centre would also be transferred to the directorate.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said at a media launch of the new directorate at Gallagher Estate in Midrand yesterday that although the transfer of the Scorpions investigators to the police was voluntary, it was encouraging that the vast majority had opted to be part of the police.
"These are men and women who have honoured the duty to contribute to the goal of realising the safety and security of every South African," Mthethwa said.

The Hawks' chief, former Western Cape deputy provincial commissioner and Robben Island political prisoner Anwa Dramat, said the unit would set up offices in all the provinces to be led by a deputy provincial commissioner of the unit who would report to both the directorate and the provincial police commissioner.

"This is one of the concrete steps we have taken to address the problem of units operating in silos and to ensure greater accountability in the work that we do," Dramat said.
He said the directorate would fight organised crime and focus on the criminal high-flyers who showed little regard for the criminal justice system.

"These high-flyers are responsible for the violent nature of some of the crimes we have witnessed in the cash- in-transit heists and vehicle hijackings, to name a few."The fight against the illegal narcotic trade, which has had a devastating effect on our communities... requires a sustained campaign and efforts from all our agencies."Dramat said white-collar criminals were often disguised as business people, but their crimes had a devastating effect on society.

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