Monday, August 11, 2008

Full turn out for Scorpions' public hearing

11 August 2008
Eastern Cape residents were streaming to the Mdantsane Indoor Sports centre on Monday for public hearings on the bills relating to the disbanding of the Scorpions, SABC news reported.

About three hundred people had arrived by the start of the hearings at 10am, according to the national broadcaster.

"The aim of these public hearings is to accord ordinary citizens a platform to engage the committees," the parliamentary communication services said in a statement.

"Public hearings have always played a crucial role in shaping the legislative direction which Parliament has championed over the past decade."

Parliament's portfolio committees on justice and constitutional development, and safety and security, will hold hearings throughout the country from Monday to Friday.

The bills concern the possible replacement of the Directorate of Special Operations, known as the Scorpions, with a new division within the SA Police Service (SAPS), known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.

The Democratic Alliance has, meanwhile, called on voters to "punish" the ANC for closing down the Scorpions by not voting for the party in next year's general election.

"In 2004, the government disbanded the SA Narcotics Bureau and since then, drug related crimes have multiplied," DA Gauteng safety spokesperson John Moodey said in a statement.

"It is apparent that the powers that be are hellbent on dissolving the Scorpions, just as they did the other SAPS special units such as the Child Protection Unit...

"We have seen and experienced the negative effects of such strategy.

"These few realities are sufficient cause for the Scorpions to be retained and in fact be strengthened.

"If the unit is doing its job and in investigating ANC and its alliance partners' office bearers, then so be it. Government and the ruling party are not above the law," he said.

In a truly democratic society, the state would be listening to the people, added DA Mpumalanga Chief Whip and safety and security spokesperson Clive Hatch.

Instead, public opinion about the Scorpions was being "fobbed off", he said in a statement.

The public hearing in Mpumalanga will be held at the Lynville Hall, in Witbank, at 10am on Tuesday.

The more people who attended, the greater the message of public dissatisfaction at the decision to disband the Scorpions, said Hatch.

"The DA has submitted petitions in the thousands. We will not be deterred in our quest to keep the Scorpions going," he said. -
Sapa

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