More Cato Manor members to be charged

2012-08-21 07:02

Investigators are preparing to charge up to 10 additional members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit for participating in alleged hit squad activities when the case returns to court Friday.

They will also add additional charges to the 71 counts – including 14 counts of murder – currently faced by the 18 members of the OCU’s Serious and Violent Crime section who were arrested on June 20 in a swoop by the Hawks and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
 
Two members of the National Intervention Unit arrested along with them have been released after agreeing to turn state witness.

Last week prosecutors in the case – a High Court date for which will be set on Friday when the indictment is served on the accused in the Durban Regional Court – were busy preparing documentation to facilitate the 10 appearing in court.

It is not clear at this stage whether the additional accused will be arrested ahead of Friday’s court appearance or issued with summons to appear along with those already charged.

City Press understands that the additional accused will be charged with involvement in the existing 14 killings, all of which were carried out during armed robbery investigations by the unit, and that further charges will be added regarding the alleged illegal killing of taxi operators or hitmen operating on their behalf.

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed that additional accused would be added and that the 18 current accused would also face additional charges.

He was unable to provide further detail.

“There will be additional accused added and there will be more charges brought,’’ Dlamini said. “The prosecution team is busy with the paperwork.’’

According to the initial charge sheet, the 18 were responsible for 14 unlawful killings in Durban and Zululand, as well as covering up the killings, planting weapons on their victims, robbery, assault, attempted murder and firearms charges.

On Wednesday Carl van der Merwe, the lawyer acting for the 18 accused, lodged an application in the High Court in Durban to challenge the legality of the search and seizure operation carried out on their homes when they were arrested.

They also want computers, phones, firearms and other items seized in the raids returned to them and are challenging the legality of the arrest warrants in terms of which they were picked up.

In papers, Warrant Officer Paul Mostert, one of the accused, argues that the warrants were unconstitutional and “breathtaking in their scope’’.

Mostert claims the warrants were used by the raiding squad under Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Kola to “roam at large’’ through his home and those of his

co-accused, with male detectives unnecessarily and “distastefully’’ going through their wives’ underwear and confiscating goods belonging to their wives and children.

He says the warrants are overly broad and “unintelligible’’ and gave the searchers no detail of the crimes allegedly committed by him and his colleagues.

As a result, the warrants were used for a “fishing expedition’’ by the investigators.

Mostert also claimed the Hawks leaked information about the arrests to the media to violate the rights of him and his colleagues.

The state has 30 days to respond to the application, which will be heard in October.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela referred City Press to Dlamini for comment.

NPA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

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