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Cape town - There has been no convincing argument that the police specialised Hawks unit will not be autonomous, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
“The directorate (Hawks) constitutes a cocooned autonomous group,” submitted Michael Donen SC, for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Donen contended the SA Police Service Amendment Act, which is being challenged by businessman Hugh Glenister and the Helen Suzman foundation, met all the requirements of establishing an independent crime fighting unit focusing on, among others, corruption.
Because the appointment of the Hawks' head was led by Mthethwa, this did not mean it would be unduly politically influenced.
“The appointment by the minister of the head cannot be described as a political appointee,” Donen said.
His arguments were in line with those of President Jacob Zuma's counsel, Kemp J Kemp SC, who earlier said the police minister's discretion only took effect when deciding who he wanted to appoint, as Hawks chief, from those who met the objective criteria as set out by the act.
The amendment act was drafted last year in response to a previous Constitutional Court victory by Glenister, in which the executive was ordered to change the legislation to provide the Hawks with independence from political interference, among other things.
Glenister brought his case following the dissolution of the Scorpions, an investigative unit under the National Prosecuting Authority, in 2008.
He is now back in court, arguing the new act still did not adequately insulate the Hawks from political interference.