Another delay in 'Cato Manor death squad' case

2017-09-29 16:37
Johan Booysen. (Niyanta Singh, Supplied)

Johan Booysen. (Niyanta Singh, Supplied)

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Durban – Another delay has hit the "Cato Manor death squad" case that is being heard in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.

On Friday, accused number one - suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major-General Johan Booysen - and 25 other policemen who are facing charges of murder, attempted murder and racketeering - were told that their matter would only be heard on November 10.

After making a brief appearance before Judge Shermaine Balton, the group’s bail was extended, following the State’s request that the matter be postponed.

The State had told the court that it had come to an agreement with the defence that the matter be postponed so that the logistics could be discussed with the Judge President.

Booysen, who accepted an early retirement offer from the SAPS in February, and his co-accused are accused of running a "Cato Manor death squad".

READ: Suspended KZN Hawks boss goes on early retirement

They were arrested in June 2012 and charged with 116 crimes, including counts of murder, attempted murder and racketeering.

Booysen told the media outside court that the State had intended to postpone the matter to September 2018.

"But we said, no, that will be too long."

He said both parties had decided to engage with the Judge President before their next court appearance to determine the way forward.

The "death squad” is accused of killing suspects and rivals of taxi operators they were doing business with. They were also accused of planting weapons next to their victims to create the impression that the killings were justified.

NPA boss Abrahams reinstated charges

Booysen had previously told the media that he believed they were targeted because they had been investigating several politically connected individuals.

KwaZulu-Natal NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara told News24 that the reason for the postponement was for the State to consult the court rolls and plan a synergy between the accused civil matters and the criminal matter.

Booysen has won repeated victories against the criminal action and departmental proceedings against him, insisting that he, with the members of the unit as collateral damage, had been targeted because of his investigation into a politically connected few.

The law required that all racketeering charges have to be signed off by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, a post filled at the time by Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba.

Booysen challenged this and, in 2014, High Court Judge Trevor Gorven set aside Jiba's authorisation, ruling that there was no evidence before her to warrant it.

This ruling was never appealed and the charges against him were withdrawn.

An internal disciplinary inquiry, chaired by Advocate Nazeer Cassim, also cleared Booysen of any wrongdoing, finding that he was a victim of political battles.

Soon after his appointment in June 2015, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams - allegedly using the same documentation as Jiba - reinstated the charges.

READ: Controversial KZN cop to challenge NPA head's charges against him

Booysen and the other officers then challenged Abrahams' decision to prosecute them.

Despite taking early retirement, Booysen has maintained that he will continue to fight Abrahams' decision.

Read more on:    police  |  npa  |  durban  |  crime

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