SA businessman against disbanding special crime unit

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Johannesburg-based businessman Hugh Glenister is seeking from the Pretoria High Court an urgent prohibitive order against the South African government’s plan to pass legislation that disbands the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) – otherwise known as the Scorpions.

The respondents in the matter are the President of the Republic, the Minister of Safety and Security, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, the head of the Directorate of Special Prosecutions, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

In his affidavit, Glenister argued that disbanding the Scorpions ‘would not be rationally connected to a legitimate governmental purpose’.

He said it would also be a violation of the government’s constitutional obligations to initiate new legislation in a constitutionally admissible way and to uphold the rights of every South African to life, dignity, property and security.

“Just call me a concerned citizen,” explains Glenister. “I believe our constitutional rights are being violated and Parliament is being undermined by this reckless desire to destroy a functioning institution.

”The mere act of initiating legislation to disband the Scorpions would mean that, come June, there won’t be an agency left to merge with the police,” he added.

Glenister said since its inception in 2001, the DSO had been extremely successful at combating crime, with conviction rates averaging 85% between 2004 and 2008.

During the same period, he said, investigations finalised averaged 259 while the number of prosecutions finalised stood at an average of 203.

He contended that the The organisation also led to the prosecution (or pending prosecution) of a number of high-profile and cases of corruption, fraud and other crimes, including the ‘travelgate scandal’ in Parliament, Shabir Shaik, ANC President Jacob Zuma, Tony Yengeni and Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

“The citizens of South Africa – particularly the poor – and our economy are essentially living in a state of emergency with crime levels what they are. This act is akin to dismantling our arsenal in the middle of a war,” said Glenister.

He alleged that the government’s push for an incorporation of the DSO into the police, notwithstanding the success of the former, was due to the ANC’s resolution to dissolve the DSO as a ‘matter of urgency’.

The resolution was taken at the ANC’s African National Conference, held in Polokwane in December 2007.

“The resolution was passed because the DSO has been too effective when it comes to investigating various high-profile members of the ANC.

“I believe it was passed in order to protect various ANC members from current and future investigations by the DSO. It was not passed because the DSO was unsuccessful in its mission,” he added. Panapress.

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