South Africa's new priority crimes unit
10 July 2009
South Africa's new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), to be known as the Hawks, will target organised crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The new unit replaces the National Prosecuting Authority's Directorate of Special Operations, which was known as the Scorpions, and has inherited the core of the Scorpions' investigative capacity, as well as all the cases it was busy handling.
The head of the Scorpions, and Scorpions special investigators based in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, have started relocating to the Hawks, which falls under the SAPS.
Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa has appointed Western Cape Deputy Commissioner of Police Anwa Dramat to head the new unit.
Speaking at it the launch of the Hawks in Johannesburg this week, Dramat said the fight against crime in South Africa required an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach.
"A genuine commitment to working together is the key ingredient to meeting our objectives," Dramat said. "We have to move away from the 'silo' approach that is prevalent in so many of the structures tasked with combating crime and corruption.
"We need to agree on a partnership and a multi-disciplinary approach that will benefit all South Africans."
The unit has formed a close working relationship with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Treasury, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the South African Revenue Service, and the Department of Home Affairs.
While the Hawks' organisational structure is being finalised, the functions of the SAPS's Organised Crime Unit, Commercial Crime Unit and High Technology Project Centre are expected to be transferred to the DPCI.
Mthethwa, also speaking at the Hawks' launch, said stringent selection and vetting procedures would ensure that the DPCI was staffed with investigators of the highest quality.
At the same time, Mthethwa noted that most Scorpions investigators had opted to join the new unit and be part of the SAPS.
The minister said he was confident that the transitional measures put in place, including the formation of joint operational management teams from the Scorpions and the SAPS, would ensure a smooth transition from the Scorpions to the Hawks.