KZN Hawks head in police custody

2012-08-22 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Hawks head, Johan Booysen was in police custody today as members of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) continued their swoop on members of the now defunct, Durban Organised Crime Unit.

Last night members of the disbanded unit gathered overnight at their Victoria Embankment offices in Durban as word spread of further impending arrests, including of high-ranking senior officers.

There was a great sense of camaraderie as the officers, again in a show of unity, made themselves available to be arrested at their offices rather than their homes.

In June this year 18 detectives from the unit were arrested and released on bail. They face several charges of murder relating to the deaths of suspects in cases that were being investigated by them.

Those policemen are due to appear in court on Friday and this week brought an application against the state in the Durban High Court, challenging the validity of the search warrants at their arrest.

Their arrests came about after a Sunday newspaper carried images in December last year of their allegedly rejoicing after apprehending and killing suspects. Shortly thereafter an investigation by the Hawks and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) led to the arrests.

As the men gathered overnight many were overwhelmed with emotion as they met and faced the uncertainty of what the day would hold for them.

“All we can do is sit and wait for this snake to bite us,” said one officer.

Another senior high-ranking officer said: “I won’t be surprised if I am arrested. But I am ready. Fortunately our courts are independent.”

One who was recently injured in the line of duty said he did not fear being arrested, but he felt “deeply saddened” by the developments.

“This feels like someone is taking a knife and trying to dig our hearts out,” said the officer.

“There were many a times we stood in front of bullets coming straight at us and were prepared to take it for our country and safety of our fellow man. But never did we think it would come to this.”

Another officer said he felt completely betrayed.

“We know our rights. There were many occasions when high-ranking national politicians specifically and personally requested us to investigate cases to help bring stability to the province. Now it is those very same politicians who are again using their clout to get rid of us,” he said.

One member of the unit thanked his colleagues for showing up.

“I just want to say those of us who haven’t been picked up, we appreciate it. We just want to get it over and done with and join you all.”

Officers waited for news of what would happen, some bringing their dinner in to the offices.

Mostly they were in good spirits, if not a little peeved at having to wait. They whiled away the time discussing cases.

Just after 11pm they gathered in the corridor to talk about the expectations for today and the possibilities of further arrests.

They all agreed they would co-operate with the authorities and try to make the experience as painless as possible.

Those not yet arrested were warned to have witnesses with them at home, which is where the members speculated the arrests would take place.

They each ensured they had one another’s cellphone numbers and agreed to keep in touch, especially if the arrests started happening.

One of the senior members of the team said they had tried to ascertain who was due to be arrested.

“Guys, we just don’t know who is on that list.”

There was consensus, though, that there would be new faces in the dock on Friday.

IPID spokesperson advocate Moses Dlamini confirmed their team was back in KwaZulu-Natal for the court appearance on Friday.

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