Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-18 Reporter: Wakeford

Maduna, Ngcuka Should Resign



Business Day

Date 2003-09-18



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State institutions are created to facilitate fairness and justice in society. The separation of state judicial, legislative and executive powers underscores the need for balance in governance, with enough checks and balances set up to avoid abuse of power.

The current location of the Scorpions flies in the face of this fundamental principle. Investigation and prosecution functions should be separated to avoid what is seemingly an abuse of the justice system and political manipulation of events. Prosecution should be the duty of the justice department while investigative activities should be the domain of the safety and security department.

The Scorpions, under the leadership of Bulelani Ngcuka, have selectively and successfully destroyed careers of leading politicians and business leaders. Most of the high-profile public cases are characterised by protracted processes which allow for a lengthy media debate. This results in character assassination and the ultimate collapse of the target's career.

In some cases they fail to prosecute, and in others they succeed on a technicality. Jacob Zuma is a typical example of how a respected leader's reputation is vilified by a long "trial by media" process and charges dropped. This has left sufficient doubt in the mind of the public to discredit the deputy president for life.

As stated in a prior column, I cannot believe that somebody who has risked his entire career and sacrificed so much for the people of SA would perform such an about-turn in his personal value system. It is inconceivable that Zuma would "sell his birthright for a bowl of soup", which the alleged sum of R500000 is in the bigger scheme of things.

Winnie Madikizela-Madikizela Mandela was nailed on a minor charge and Tony Yengeni on a mere technicality. Terror Lekota was investigated by the Scorpions for nondeclared business interests instead of allowing the parliamentary ethics committee to deal with the issue at hand.

There are many such examples of leaders' careers being abruptly ended whether prosecuted or not.

I query how these investigations take place and the regularity of political character assassinations. It is also strange that these leaders are the recipients of far harsher tactics than potential corporate criminals, as in the case of the rand commission.

The press often joins raids on homes of suspects and information is selectively leaked to discredit those concerned. Use of dubious covert agencies from the private sector to aid the Scorpions is an added hindrance to the justice system. The invasion of private individuals' homes, along with the seizure of documents and other assets, is a flagrant disregard of basic human rights.

To amplify my point I quote from a legal memorandum in such a case: "The Supreme Court of Appeal has frowned severely on such conduct as is demonstrated by the scathing finding made against the Competition Commission. In this case in effect the commission took along with them journalists to report on and reveal as it was happening the very search they were conducting.

The (appeal) court held that even a search warrant lawfully issued might be unlawfully executed if not executed in the spirit of respect for privacy of the person being searched. This type of conduct is seemingly becoming endemic in our society. This is far more than the thin end of the wedge. This is the beginning of the end of the rule of law as we would have understood it to have existed in our country."

The integrity of our criminal justice system is under question. We desperately need the Scorpions' investigative arm to be relocated to the safety and security ministry to avoid the incestuous activities of this institution. It is common cause and best practice to have a separation of investigative and prosecutional elements of the justice system.

Given recent allegations about Ngcuka's employment history, and an overwhelming evolving body of evidence of career coups, one must also question who is ultimately pulling the strings of this vital organ of state. Ngcuka and Justice Minister Penuell Maduna are responsible for the collapse of the criminal justice system. They should resign!

Wakeford is MD of Growth Africa.

With acknowledgements to Wakeford and the Bussiness Day.