Ten years after the Scorpions were disbanded, during his State of Nation Address this week Ramaphosa said there was an urgent need for a directorate which would identify priority cases to investigate and recover assets thought to be from dubious activities.
Political analyst Levy Ndou applauded Ramaphosa on this move, saying it reflects the ANC’s commitment to fighting corruption and holding those implicated accountable.
“One of the government’s priorities is to fight against corruption and if one would explain the presidency of Ramaphosa since last year February, you’d hear him saying that he needs to develop all strategies to fight against corruption.
“There was a huge outcry when the Scorpions were disbanded and there is an alarming rate of corruption in South Africa. My view is that this should be seen as a commitment on the part of the president to ensure that they are able to fight corruption at all costs,” said Ndou.
On Wednesday, the Hawks arrested former Bosasa CEO Angelo Agrizzi and his former colleagues Andries van Tonder, Frans Vorster and Carlos Bonafacio along with former correctional services CFO Patrick Gillingham. They appeared before the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes court and were granted R20 000 bail.
Their arrests follow revelations from the Zondo commission in which Bosasa executives and top ANC officials were exposed.
The ANC disbanded the Scorpions in 2009 and replaced them with the Hawks.
The Scorpions had achieved a conviction rate of more than 90% and pursued high-profile cases, including the arms deal investigation that led to the conviction of one-time financial advisor to former president Jacob Zuma, Schabir Shaik.
Ndou said the decision to disband the Scorpions had been an emotional one, adding there was a need for the new directorate to look closely look into allegations made at the Zondo commission.
“There was a view that the Scorpions were being used by certain individuals, especially those against Zuma in order to investigate certain individuals. But whether we like it or not, a unit like the Scorpions is needed in South Africa if we are serious about the fight against corruption,” said Ndou.
Political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela threw his weight behind the unit, which will bring together investigative and prosecutorial capacity from within government and the private sector under a director who will report to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi.
“For people who have been concerned that the corruption allegations are out there and nothing is being done, and as result of that were going to vote differently, they might have a change in mind now that some action is being taken. Some might be convinced, but some might think it’s just window dressing,” said Mkhabela.