Boyd Webb

Police corruption is likely to skyrocket if the Scorpions are closed down, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stated in a submission to parliament.

"The SAPS is already riddled with corruption and is very bad at addressing the issue," CSVR senior researcher David Bruce argued.

He said that corruption within the service could only be properly addressed if investigating units, with the "investigative sophistication" of the Scorpions, were allowed to remain independent of the police.

The CSVR submission is but one of many which the chairperson of the National Assembly's Safety and Security Committee, Maggie Sotyu, expects to be waiting for her when she return to parliament next Tuesday.

The public has until Monday to make submissions concerning their views on whether the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) should be closed and merged into the SAPS as called for by ANC resolutions passed at its December conference.

The CSVR said that while it recognised that there were problems with the way the Scorpions were managed - as highlighted in the Khampepe Commission's report - these should be addressed without dissolving the unit.

Closing the unit would do nothing to reduce the risk of the state abusing its power in the future by using similar units for its own political gain, the CSVR argued.

"Creating a single agency with a monopoly of investigative powers is more likely to accentuate the problem," the CSVR said.

Groups within the ANC along with the ANC's alliance partners have accused President Thabo Mbeki of using the Scorpions to carry out his political agenda against ANC leader Jacob Zuma.

Meanwhile the Centre For Constitutional Rights (CFCR) on Wednesday described cabinet's decision to close the Scorpions as "irrational and arbitrary". It added it had a duty to draw attention to "conduct inconsistent with the constitution".

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on July 24, 2008