South Africa

HEAVY LOSS

Big blow to criminal investigations as super investigator Frank Dutton dies

Dutton had led numerous high profile criminal investigations over the past four decades, in South Africa and abroad. 

The death of Frank Dutton (72) on 20 January from a stroke has brought to an end a decades-long career of a former police detective and private investigator whose work has been the backbone of prominent investigations. These included crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Croatia, Truth and Reconciliation Commission cold cases and investigations for the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State (Zondo Commission).

After leaving police college in Pretoria in 1967 Dutton took up a post to what was then Natal. Here his investigations would expose the apartheid government’s third force activities fuelling political violence. Described as meticulous and determined, Dutton, who received the Order of Baobab Gold in 2012, is especially recognised for being unwavering in standing up for truth and justice even when it has meant taking on those from within his own police ranks. 

In the mid-1990s he established and headed up the Investigation Task Unit to investigate hit squads within the KwaZulu police. Later he was seconded to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to investigate genocide‚ war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Croatia.

At retirement from the police in April 2004 he was head of the Scorpions and had clocked up 38 years of service. In retirement, Dutton turned to investigating TRC cold cases, successfully paving the way for the reopening of the inquests in the deaths in detention of Ahmed Timol and Neil Aggett and the indictment relating to the murder of Nokuthula Simelane. 

He was an investigator for the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in 2018 and last year joined the Investigating Directorate into State Capture. DM

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  • Heard this on the radio an hour or so ago. And I am extremely sad about this. Mr. Dutton was one of the country’s top investigators, dedicated to the cause. And being an investigator in complex cases, such as in State Capture, is so much, much more difficult. My condolences to his family, his friends, and the immense number of credible colleagues that worked with him over the years. To say this is a loss to the NPA, and South Africa, is an understatement. R.I.P. Mr Dutton. You will not be forgotten

    • Frank Dutton was a courageous police officer, full of integrity. In the late 1980s, Samuel Jamile, then Inkatha Central Committee member and Deputy Minister in the KwaZulu government, murdered a young man for warning a UDF leader of a pending attack by Jamile and his henchmen in Clermont, Natal. He also attempted to kill the spouse of the young man. She survived after being left for dead. Efforts were made to have the police prosecute Mr. Jamile. The security police blocked those efforts. I was the attorney instructed to bring a private prosecution against Mr. Jamile. That required a nolle prosequi from the State before that private prosecution could begin. While the nolle prosequi application was pending, Frank Dutton contacted me – I think this was his first appearance on the public stage. He said that the State was going to do the prosecution. He led it and did a thoroughly comprehensive investigation and prosecution of Mr. Jamile. Mr. Jamile was convicted in June 1991 of the murder and attempted murder and he was sentenced to death. That sentence was not carried out as a result of the suspension of all death sentences after February 2, 1990. When the amnesty negotiations began thereafter, Inkatha’s first request for amnesty was for Mr. Jamile, who was released.

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