News24

Two 'hit squad' accused freed

2012-06-21 18:20

Durban - Charges against two officers arrested in connection with alleged hit squad activities by the Durban Organised Crime Unit based at Cato Manor were withdrawn on Thursday.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga confirmed charges against the two had been withdrawn, but "that there were still ongoing investigations".

Asked whether Dumisani Nzama and Sivuyile Ngodwa had turned State witness, he said: "I will not comment on that."

The two were part of the National Intervention Unit and not the Durban Organised Crime Unit, but were among the 20 people arrested on Wednesday in a joint operation involving the Hawks.

They had been expected to appear in court on Thursday. However, only 18 men appeared in the Durban Regional Court on Thursday.

Exposé

They face 14 charges of murder, 14 of unlawful possession of ammunition, 14 of unlawful possession of firearms, and four of house breaking.

One of them, Captain Neville Eva, told the court he intended pleading not guilty to all the charges.

Also on the provisional indictment are 14 counts of defeating the ends of justice, and 14 of unlawful possession of weapons and ammunition.

The court was packed for the bail hearings of the 20, who stand accused of being part of a hit squad.

Eva said when the Sunday Times published an exposé alleging the existence of the hit squad, all members of the unit promised the then Independent Complaints Directorate (it has since been renamed the Independent Police Investigative Directorate) they would co-operate with the investigation.

"Our attitude was to assist the investigation in any way possible."

Eva said the members were ordered to hand in their weapons, laptops and cellphones earlier this year. They were also instructed not to take on any new cases, but to continue with pending cases.

Eva, a veteran of 27 years, said if they had intended to tamper with evidence, they had had six months to do so.

However, Colonel Frans Khola, who is part of the Hawks team investigating the allegations against the 18, said he did not believe the directorate and Hawks team had received the officers' co-operation.

"At some stage I made [sic] to speak to one of the accused. He said he wanted to exercise his right [to silence]."

Witnesses lived in fear

He said in some cases some of those that had been killed were not even suspects in the crimes the officers were investigating.

He cited an incident where the officers allegedly shot dead a 16-year-old boy as they burst into his home in search of an escapee.

Khola said many of the witnesses to the shootings were afraid, and in another case an entire homestead in Melmoth lived in fear. Some of those people had received calls threatening them if they talked to the police.

People supporting the men stood outside the court building with placards.

Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele received rousing applause when he entered the public gallery. There was a heavy police presence inside and outside the building.

People had to stand outside the court in the hallway, because there was insufficient space for supporters and families of the accused. Magistrate Sharon Marks threatened to have the people removed if they did not keep quiet.

The 18 men who appeared in court on Thursday are:

Gonasagern Padayachee, 44, Adriaan Stolz, 51, Paul Mostert, 51, Eric Nel, 41, Captain Nevile Eva, 45, Adjithsingh Ghaness, 41, Phumelela Makhanya, 45, Willem Ollivier, 59, Peter George, 51, Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi, 47, Mhlabunzima Thabethe, 49, Thathayiphi Mdlalose, 48, Charles Smith, 40, Jeremy Marten, 39, Rubendren Naidoo, 33, Raymond Lee, 31, Anton Lockem, 44, and Bruce McInness, 43.

Comments
  • khethani.nkabinde1 - 2012-06-21 18:34

    Thanks for the two who turned to be 204 witness to tell it all...first battle won...

      tshifhiwa.vandermunalisi - 2012-06-21 18:55

      Rainbow nation at it's best, whites, indians, colored and Blacks

      wotzupvan - 2012-06-21 21:15

      Isnt that ironic, the anc emblem on an apartheid flag. Dude keep your comments in the peanut gallery.

      jolan.subban - 2012-06-21 21:29

      Hey khethani, u don't know ur elbow from ur arse, so shut the f up an wait for the truth, cos therz a whole lot more then u will ever guess...read this its for our men in blue...............??Oh.. you're a Cop?? That's cool. I wanted to do that when I was a kid. What do you make?\ \WHAT DO I MAKE?? I make holding your hand seem like the biggest thing in the world when someone just tried to hurt you. I make 5 minutes seem like a lifetime when I am fighting a suspect while waiting for back up. I make those annoying sirens seem like angels when you need them. I can make your children breathe... when they stop. I make myself get out of bed at 3am to risk my life to save people I've never met. I make it possible to keep back the chaos everyday. I make going to work for your family's safety a duty that I will die for. I make myself work holidays, nights, during hurricanes, tornados and other disasters. Today I might \r\nmake the ultimate sacrifice to save your life. I make a difference, what do you make?\

      richard.hipkin - 2012-06-22 08:55

      Shame khethani, so ignorant. http://www.citizen.co.za/citizen/content/en/citizen/local-news?oid=266956&sn=Detail&pid=334&Bribe-to-smear-Hawks-boss

  • Bokfan - 2012-06-21 18:44

    Criminality of every kind should be fought without fear or favour. However, were the law fairly applied then a third of parliament and virtually the entire cabinet with their administrations and families would be in the dock tomorrow morning. If these men are found guilty in a fair trial and then receive an appropriate sentence I will be grateful that justice has been served. But if this is an attempt to persecute dutiful men who have been targeted to save criminals I will declare non-violent personal war on the anc's illegitimate regime.

  • Carl - 2012-06-21 19:05

    Bring back the DEATH SENTENCE!!!!!

      richard.hipkin - 2012-06-22 08:52

      Ignorance.

  • barry.dogg.fritz - 2012-06-21 19:09

    you damned if you do and you are damned if you dont , these officers put a huge dent on crime , why do this , unfortunately to get results sometimes you have to work out of the bounderies of the norm ,unless some corrupt politician has his fingers in this

      richard.hipkin - 2012-06-22 08:52

      Zuma's son...

  • Eugene Prinsloo - 2012-06-21 20:00

    Cele should not be allowed to link himself with these men. Proof exist of hes criminal behavior and he has not spent a single night in jail. But what do you expect from a nation run by convicted criminals and terrorists. In the US they fire the president for having oral sex here you can murder steal and rape and they pay you to stay in government.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-06-22 08:54

      Where does proof exist of Cele "criminal activities"? If you talking about the building leases even the PP Madonsela found nothing unlawful in Cele's actions...

  • Mark - 2012-06-21 21:15

    Quite soon the poor taxpayer will have to fork out more funds to build a prison where politicians and police officers are kept.

  • Sbonakaliso Nyawose - 2012-06-21 21:42

    shame on you Cele ,so much support, just hope you are not hiding anything -can smell another Selebi case is 1meter away.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-06-22 08:55

    Ja ne, News24 commenters... so ignorant and shallow.

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