Publication: Saturday Star Issued: Date: 2004-06-19 Reporter: Jeremy Michaels

Scorpions May Lose Their Sting, Warns Ngcuka



Saturday Star

Date 2004-06-19


Jeremy Michaels

Web Link


Prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka has warned that the Scorpions unit is in danger of falling apart because of the sustained attacks on it over the last year.

As a result, the immediate challenge facing the leadership of the Scorpions was to keep it "focused and fighting", Ngcuka told the National Assembly's justice committee on Friday.

Ngcuka, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, told the committee on Thursday that the National Prosecuting Authority - of which he is the head - had endured "a very turbulent year", but in spite of this achieved most of the objectives it had set for itself.

In a clear reference to the storm around the Scorpions investigation into Deputy President Jacob Zuma and the Hefer Commission of Inquiry into allegations that he was an apartheid spy, Ngcuka said: "Last year was a very turbulent year for our organisation, and yet in spite of the challenges that we faced, we managed to achieve the objectives that we set for ourselves. That for us is an indication of the resilience and strength of the people that work for this organisation."

However, on Friday Ngcuka conceded that the Directorate of Special Operations - the Scorpions - had taken the hardest knock, with low morale threatening to destroy the unit as the management and leadership focused on defending instead of running it.

"There have been times when this institution has been running itself because we are focusing on defending it," Ngcuka said.

"The challenge that we are facing is how to ensure that we keep that organisation focused and fighting in the midst of all these attacks."

The major challenge facing the leadership of the NPA, and the Scorpions specifically, was "how to ensure that we rise to and meet the public expectation that has been generated over the last few years".

In a related development, Ngcuka said he was confident that justice would prevail at another parliamentary committee's discussions on a report by Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana which severely criticised him and recommended that parliament hold him to account.

After investigating a complaint by Zuma that Ngcuka had abused his power by making a public statement that the NPA had a prima facie case of corruption against Zuma but that he would not prosecute, Mushwana found that Ngcuka had infringed on Zuma's right to dignity and failed to co-operate with the Public Protector's office during the investigation.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Zuma presided over the selection of those MPs representing the ANC on the committee dealing with Mushwana's report despite the fact that he had a vested interest in the committee's deliberations.

Asked whether he thought Zuma's role in the appointment of the ANC MPs to the committee would affect its outcome, Ngcuka said: "I will rather reserve my comment ... I would rather wait to allow the committee to deliberate on the matter."

With acknowledgements to Jeremy Michaels and the Saturday Star.