The announcement that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will soon establish an investigating directorate to focus primarily on state capture has sparked debate that this is the re-emergence of the now-defunct elite crime-fighting unit the Scorpions. However, it seems the new directorate will possibly be more like the joint anticorruption task team established by former president Jacob Zuma, which had very little success. The Scorpions was set up by former president Thabo Mbeki in 1999, with a mandate to investigate and prosecute corruption and organised crime. The Scorpions started investigating and prosecuting high-profile cases and had an 82%-94% conviction rate, Corruption Watch says. But the elite unit was eventually accused of being politically influenced and in 2007 at the ANC’s watershed Polokwane conference the party decided it should be disbanded. In 2009, the ANC government officially shut down the Scorpions. The Hawks, which forms part of the SA Police Service, was...

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