WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR: The Scorpions and the politics of justice

  • David Bruce Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
Keywords: Directorate of Special Operations, scorpions, South Africa, police


In May 2008 legislation was tabled in Parliament providing for the dissolution of the Directorate of Special Operations (known as the ‘Scorpions’), an investigative unit based in the National Prosecuting Authority. The draft legislation provides that Scorpions members will selectively be incorporated into a new investigative unit located within the SAPS. These developments followed a resolution passed at the African National Congress National Conference in Polokwane in December 2007, calling for the unit to be disbanded. Since December the ANC has been forced to defend its decision in the face of widespread support for the Scorpions. One of the accusations made by the ANC was that the Scorpions were involved in politically motivated targeting of ANC members. This article examines the issue of political manipulation of criminal investigations and argues that doing away with the Scorpions will in fact increase the potential for such manipulation thereby undermining the principle of equality before the law.

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