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NEWS > 05 February 2008

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Editorial: A picture of police
Krystina Sulatycki

You’ve seen the photos: a young woman, handcuffed, receiving a “head stun,” and then being pushed to the ground by a cop. The series of images is shocking and, one would assume, incriminating. However, the Crown prosecutor’s office says the police officer in question should not be charged. According to the 2 November edition of the Edmonton Journal, “Chief Calgary prosecutor Gordon Wong said a review of the case determined that there was not a reasonable likelihood of a conviction that the use of force was excessive.” Ultimately the decision to press criminal cha... Read more

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The Times - Johannesburg,Gaute
05 February 2008
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Scorpions ‘last effective corr

The Scorpions are the country’s last effective corruption-busting unit and disbanding them will impact on fighting organised crime, said the Democratic Alliance in Cape Town today.

"Every time special units were integrated [into the police], it has impacted on the ability to fight crime in that area," said the party’s spokesman on justice Tertius Delport.

The DA was making its case for why the Scorpions should maintain their independence from the police.

He cited the old SA Railway Police, the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units and anti-poaching unit Operation Neptune as examples.

"The whole culture in the police is contrary to what we need to investigate high-level crime," he said.

He said national police commissioner Jackie Selebi had gone on record as saying that the SAPS was "not at all" in favour of a prosecution-led approach.

The police had a "poor track record" on anti-corruption activities and were vulnerable to it from within.

The advantage of the unit, officially called the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO), was that it combined intelligence gathering, criminal investigation and prosecution.

"This powerful combination of skills and expertise led by a qualified and experienced prosecutor means that the DSO is able to conduct investigations that are solid and will stand up in court."

The unit had a conviction rate of between 82 and 94 percent since 2002, he said, citing the National Prosecuting Authority’s 2006/07 annual report. The number of people it had arrested went up from 66 in 2002 to 617 in 2006. It finalised 180 prosecutions in 2002, 214 in 2006.

Some of its successes included being the first in South Africa to convict financial directors of fraud and notch up convictions for money laundering and racketeering.

The DSO had been involved in the fraud cases against Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni and had been responsible for arresting Glenn Agliotti following the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

It was currently pursuing a corruption case against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

"The track record of the police in general in simply bad."

The DA argued that: "The reasons for disbanding are not based on facts and have not been advanced in order to combat crime or improve the combating of crime... but serve the interests of individuals in elite circles of the ANC."

The party’s Len Joubert questioned the urgency of the ANC’s efforts to disband the Scorpions, saying it would knock other matters off the Justice Committee’s already full agenda. It intended completing the process by June.

"The draft Child Justice Bill will now have to be sacrificed for this, which is not nearly as urgent as it seems to be."

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