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South African Elite Police Under Investigation

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority says it will not pressure the office of the public protector to speed up investigations into complaints from Jacob Zuma, the former deputy president. Mr. Zuma has alleged that South Africa's elite crime-fighting unit the Scorpions, which falls under the Authority, is using the media to destroy his public image.

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Vusi Pikoli, says his office will give the public protector enough time to do a thorough investigation into whether or not an elite police unit leaked information to discredit former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

Mr. Zuma, said last week that the National Prosecuting Authority's special police force, the Scorpions, leaked an affidavit to the media claiming that he and his former financial adviser once shared a prostitute.

Zuma attorney Michael Hulley said Mr. Zuma did not know the woman, and said the transcript was either released to the media by the Scorpions or the media obtained it unlawfully.

Mr. Pikoli said the charges were being taken seriously. But, he cautioned, that the public protector must have enough time to conduct the probe without interruption. He said the allegations made by Mr. Zuma have to be disputed.

"The allegations that the former deputy president has made have got to be investigated," he said. "And, as the NPA and as the head of the NPA, I have got the responsibility of upholding the laws of the republic and the constitution of the republic. I, therefore, respect all institutions established by our constitution."

Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana said this week he wants more information before he decides whether to investigate allegations the Scorpions are out to destroy Mr. Zuma, once seen as the likely successor to President Thabo Mbeki.

Mr. Pikoli last week asked Mr. Mushwana to probe the allegations made by Mr. Zuma.

The alleged leaked story, published by a South African newspaper, reported that a young woman was paid thousands by Mr. Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, to "entertain" Mr. Zuma.

The alleged leaked testimony stems from the trial of Mr. Shaik, who is appealing a 15-year jail sentence for fraud and corruption.

It comes at a time when Mr. Zuma is under the spotlight for alleged rape, a charge he has denied and which he will defend in the High Court next year.

While Mr. Zuma's many supporters in the African National Congress and its allies stood by him as he was charged with corruption, his support has ebbed since the rape allegations first emerged in the press last month.