South Africa has seen the number of arrests and convictions relating to serious crime plummet since the launch of the Hawks in 2009.
This is according to information obtained by the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s second largest political party, following a reply to a parliamentary question.
The Hawks’ mandate is to 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 Scorpions, which operated independently under the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), was disbanded by President Jacob Zuma in 2009, after it had pursued corruption charges against him.
Since the disbandment of the Scorpions in January 2009, there has been a 60% decline in arrests and an astounding 83% plummet in conviction rates in the last six years of the Hawks’ existence, the DA said in a statement on Thursday (29 October).
“With the country losing approximately R30 billion – and climbing – each year to corruption, it is completely inexplicable as it is unacceptable that convictions in corruption have plummeted,” said Zakhele Mbhele, DA shadow minister of police.
“It is crystal clear that President Zuma and the ANC in government are not interested in the war against corruption but are rather the biggest proponents of corrupt activity.”
In the 2010/11 financial year, there were 14,793 arrests with 7,037 convictions. However, in the 2014/15 financial year, only 5,847 arrests were made which led to 1,176 convictions.
Since April this year only 1,038 arrests have been made and 288 convictions obtained.
“The DA will continue to stand firm in its position that the Hawks be disbanded and that the Scorpions be re-established under the NPA, which itself must be independent and free from political interference,” Mbhele said.