Strict selection, vetting of new investigators

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cape Town - Investigators wishing to be part of the new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) will undergo a stringent and comprehensive selection process.

This is according to Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, who announced the new Head of the Directorate, Anwar Dramat, on Thursday.

The new elite crime fighting unit, which replaces the former Directorate for Special Operations (DSO), also known as the Scorpions, will come into operation on 1 July.

Mr Mthethwa said in order to ensure that the unit was staffed by "highly skilled investigators who are of the highest moral fibre", stringent selection and vetting procedures will be put in place.

He said after a comprehensive selection process, prospective incumbents who met the requirements would be further subjected to security screening.

This will not be a once-off process. "There will be an initial Top Secret security clearance requirement as well as ongoing integrity testing which will include random entrapment and testing for the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Polygraph tests will be utilised for this purpose," said the minister.

Mr Mthethwa said the resources to capacitate the Directorate would be drawn from the ranks of the former Scorpions special investigators as well as the South African Police Service's Hi-Tech Organised Crime and Commercial Crime detectives.

About 137 of the 221 DSO special investigators have indicated that they would consent to moving to the new unit. The deadline for this was 27 May.

Mr Mthethwa said it was encouraging that a majority of the investigators had opted to transfer as they would be crucial to finalising the investigations that would be transferred to the new unit.

The minister said there were currently 639 cases being investigated by the DSO Head Office and its five regional offices and those cases would be transferred to the Directorate when the new unit became operational on 1 July.

"We are confident that the transitional measures that have been put in place, as well as the formation of joint operational management teams will guarantee that not a single DSO investigation will be prejudiced by the transfer process."

The Directorate is expected to focus on serious organised crime, serious commercial crime and serious corruption.

The Minister said he was certain the establishment of the Directorate would usher in a new chapter in the crime fighting ability of the South African law enforcement agencies.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe approved the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, 2008 and the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2008, in January this year.

The two Bills, passed by the National Assembly in October last year, paved the way for the DSO to be moved to the South African Police Services.

The legislation also provided for the relocation of special investigators who worked for the Scorpions unit, established in terms of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998, to the SAPS.