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Cablegate: Nqakula Formally Proposes Folding Scorpions Into

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSA #0306 0441535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131535Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3462
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS PRETORIA 000306

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S, INL/AAE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC KCRM SF
SUBJECT: NQAKULA FORMALLY PROPOSES FOLDING SCORPIONS INTO
SAPS

REF: A. 05 PRETORIA 4296
B. 07 PRETORIA 4262
C. PRETORIA 0075

1. (U) Minister for Safety and Security Charles Nqakula
proposed before the National Assembly on February 12 that the
National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Directorate of Special
Operations, popularly known as the "Scorpions," and the South
African Police Service's (SAPS) Organised Crime Unit be
merged into a single unit to fight organized crime.
Specifically, Nqakula recommended that the Scorpions be
"dissolved", that the Organised Crime Unit be "phased out",
and that "the best investigators from the two units will be
put together, under the South African Police Service, as a
reconstructed organised crime fighting unit." Nqakula went
on to praise the successes of both entities. He offered no
timetable for the proposed incorporation of the Scorpions
into SAPS.

2. (U) Opposition figures in Parliament reacted by saying
that the announcement undermines Parliament's authority and
threatens the independence of law enforcement agencies.
(NOTE: In separate initiatives (septel), the Democratic
Alliance (DA) tabled a motion under Article 50(a) of the
Constitution calling for the dissolution of the National
Assembly, while the Independent Democrats (ID) tabled an
Article 102(2) motion of no confidence in President Mbeki and
urged the President and his Cabinet to resign.)

----------------------------
"Good News for Crime Bosses"
----------------------------

3. (SBU) Peter Gastrow, former parlimentarian and head of
the Cape Town office of the Institute for Security Studies
(ISS), told EmbOff February 12 that "the only people that are
happy about (the dissolution of the Scorpions) are the
organized crime bosses." Gastrow believes that the folding
of the Scorpions into SAPS will mean the end of the unit and
the effective work it has been doing.

--------------
"Cooler Heads"
--------------

4. (SBU) Parliamentary staffer Patrick Netshandama
seperately told EmbOff February 12 that the media is
overreacting and misrepresenting Nqakula's announcement as a
fait accompli. He explained that the Scorpions can only be
disbanded after properly amended legislation has been tabled,
discussed, and approved. Netshandama believes that this is
still likely to happen, due to the ANC's overwhelming
majority in Parliament, but only after the necessary and
time-consuming legislative process. However, there is
concern over the Minister's having announced an "outcome" in
Parliament before the relevant parliamentary committees had a
chance to deal with pertinent legislation and to hold
hearings. Nqakula's scheduled press conference for February
13, presumably to discuss the matter, was abruptly canceled.

-------
Comment
-------

5. (SBU) Incorporation of the Scorpions, an elite NPA
investigative unit tasked with fighting organized crime and
corruption (which falls under Department of Justice
authority), into the SAPS (which falls under Nqakula's
Department of Safety and Security) has been under discussion
for several years (Ref A). Policy papers adopted at the June
ANC policy conference and the December ANC national
conference in Polokwane include a plan to establish a single
police service which specifically mentions dissolving the
Scorpions and bringing its investigators under the SAPS. The
matter has come to a head in recent months, with indictments
filed against ANC President Jacob Zuma (Ref B) and SAPS
National Commissioner Jakkie Selebi (Ref C) based on
QNational Commissioner Jakkie Selebi (Ref C) based on
investigations conducted by the Scorpions. While Nqakula's
statement will undoubtedly stir up controversy, we agree with
Netshandama's assessment that implementation of his proposal
will require time and legislative action. Post strongly
suspects that most Scorpions will refuse job offers with SAPS.
BOST

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