Top Scorpions could be charged for Zuma report

Mpumelelo Mkhabela, Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 1 March 2008

ANC heavyweights call on public to join fight against crime-fighting unit

Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and his top investigators could face criminal charges for allegedly commissioning the controversial report which alleges that ANC president Jacob Zuma had planned to overthrow the government of President Thabo Mbeki.

Angry ANC MPs appeared to be tightening the screws on the Scorpions this week as they also took the unusual step of calling on the public to isolate the crime-fighting unit.

Political pressure is also mounting on Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla to discipline McCarthy for allowing the elite unit to compile the “Browse Mole Report”, which alleges that Zuma’s coup plan had financial backing from certain African leaders.

The report by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) states: “Arising out of the Browse Mole Report investigation, the task team is still busy with further investigations which are at a sensitive stage and may lead to the arrest and prosecution of certain individuals.”

The Sunday Times has been told that ANC MPs expressed anger during the parliamentary caucus meeting this week at what they saw as the government’s delay in instituting disciplinary action against McCarthy, despite findings by a government task team which concluded that he had acted illegally.

The ANC has since dispatched its Chief Whip, Nathi Mthethwa, to meet with Mabandla on the reasons for the delay in acting against McCarthy and his officials. Caucus spokesman Khotso Khumalo said Mthethwa was expected to report back at the next caucus meeting.

Thursday’s caucus meeting, which was attended by the party’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, also instructed the chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on safety and security, Maggie Sotyu, to read a statement during the National Assembly sitting calling on government to take “urgent” action against the Scorpions.

The statement also called on the public to “isolate” the Scorpions.

“The ANC calls upon all South Africans to unite behind the national agenda of progress and social cohesion, raise our guards and isolate those who threaten our national and social cohesion,” said Sotyu.

She added: “We also note with regret that an important organ of state worked with the information peddlers to produce an inflammatory and false report. The DSO (Directorate of Special Operations) has acted contrary to their mandate and the law. This must stop.”

Anger within the ranks of the ANC was triggered by the findings of the JSCI that the compilation of the Browse Mole Report had the potential to “throw our new democracy into chaos”.

In a report tabled before Parliament this week, the JSCI said that the activities of the Scorpions were “very dangerous and against our national interests”.

The release of the JSCI report effectively paints McCarthy as someone who lied about the Scorpions’ involvement in the Browse Mole Report.

After it was established that the Scorpions, or DSO, were responsible for the document, McCarthy indicated that the unit would not follow up on the claims contained in it.

However, a government task team of security cluster directors-general found that McCarthy had, in fact, tasked the Western Cape head of the Scorpions, Adrian Mopp, to institute an inquiry based on the claims of the report.

McCarthy had told the JSCI that he was disappointed with the report, as some of the claims it made were “very far-fetched”. But the government task team has revealed that the Scorpions actually believed the intelligence they received through the report.

JSCI chairman Siyabonga Cwele told the Sunday Times that McCarthy had repeatedly denied that the Scorpions were gathering intelligence. This was despite the fact that investigators had informed the JSCI of their intelligence activities few years ago.

“You are not supposed to lie to Parliament. In our view it was the misrepresentation of the facts. That’s why we called him twice; that’s why we called the task team twice. Our main concern was that wrongdoing must stop. There are many other issues that are not in the report,” said Cwele.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tlali Tlali said McCarthy was still familiarising himself with the contents of the JSCI’s report before he could comment.


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