The Hawks, officially known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), is a specialized unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) that focuses on investigating and preventing serious organized crime, economic crime, and corruption.

Established in 2009, the Hawks replaced the Scorpions, which was disbanded due to political controversies. The Hawks has its headquarters in Pretoria and operates across all nine provinces in South Africa.

The unit is led by a National Head, who is appointed by the President of South Africa on the recommendation of the Minister of Police. The National Head is responsible for overseeing the activities of the Hawks and ensuring that they operate within the legal framework of the country.

The Hawks work in close collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

The primary mandate of the Hawks is to investigate and prevent priority crimes, which include serious organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other crimes that threaten national security. Some of the key areas that the Hawks focus on include drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime, and terrorism.

The Hawks have been involved in several high-profile investigations and operations, including the arrest and conviction of former National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, and the investigation into the Gupta family’s alleged involvement in state capture.

Overall, the Hawks play a critical role in maintaining law and order in South Africa by investigating and preventing serious crimes that pose a threat to the country’s stability and security.


  • South African Government, “Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI)”
  • News24, “Hawks: The crime-fighting unit South Africa needs”