ANC Draws Heavy Criticism in Parliament at Public Hearings on 'Scorpions Bills'

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Deon de Lange

THE ANC came under heavy criticism from the public when submissions were heard into the closing down of the Directorate of Special Operation, the Scorpions, in Parliament yesterday.

ANC MPs found themselves on the back foot as submission after public submission criticised the ruling party's motives and method of closing down the unit.

The second day of public hearings at Parliament into the so-called Scorpions bills - the NPA Amendment Bill and the SAPS Amendment Bill - saw tempers flare as those for and those against shutting down the elite unit slugged it out in open session.

Under the microscope is the NPA Amendment Bill which would dissolve the Scorpions and the Saps Amendment Bill which would establish a Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) under the command of the national police commissioner.

The strongest condemnation of the bills came from former MP Raenette Taljaard - now the executive director of the Helen Suzman Foundation - who argued that the move to kill off the DSO had clearly been motivated by "ulterior motives".

"The inescapable conclusion is that the government is simply giving effect to a dictate of the Polokwane conference and the ANC's National Executive Committee," she said.

Advocate Mike Pothier, representing the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, urged the committees of justice and of safety and security to heed the "overwhelming view of civil society" that the Scorpions should remain and pleaded with MPs not to place the interests of the ANC and its leaders above those of the nation as a whole. …