Dead Cato Manor 'death squad' accused still faces charges

2017-02-27 14:18
Cato Manor officers appear in court. (File, News24)

Cato Manor officers appear in court. (File, News24)

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Durban - Captain Neville Eva died more than four years ago from organ failure, but he remains accused number two in the Cato Manor "death squad" criminal matter.

This is proof, Eva’s former colleagues claim, that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams was acting with ulterior purpose and could not have properly applied his mind when authorising charges in the matter.

This is the latest salvo fired by suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major General Johan Booysen in a High Court challenge where he is seeking to quash racketeering charges he, and 25 others from the now disbanded unit, are facing.

Eva, a seasoned police officer who testified in the bail hearing that he had never in his career shot or killed anyone, died in November 2012, just months after his arrest. He had been medically boarded at the time.

And yet, four years later, he remains listed as "accused two" on the most recent, and final, indictment served on the 26 men when they appeared in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban this year.

'Lying under oath'

Abrahams claims he had not known, when he authorised the racketeering charges, that Eva had died.

But Booysen said Abrahams, in providing documents detailing his reasons for his decision, had submitted an indictment with the hand-written word "deceased" next to Eva’s name.

"So, either he did not read the indictment that formed the basis for his authorisation, or he is lying under oath to this court."

In his affidavit filed this week, Booysen said he had identified several major gaps in the State’s case, proving again that it was "baseless" and that Abrahams was intent on "prosecuting us, no matter the means".

Booysen and the other officers were accused of operating a "death squad" and, in June 2012, were arrested and charged with 116 counts, including racketeering, murder and attempting murder.

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This ruling was never appealed and the charges were withdrawn against him.

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

'Riddled with fiction'

Soon after his appointment in June 2015, Abrahams, allegedly using the same documentation as Jiba, reinstated the charges.

Booysen went back to court, demanding the record of the decision, which Abrahams supplied.

In response, Booysen said, Abrahams only supplied affidavits containing "hearsay twice removed evidence", which did not implicate him or anyone else in any of charges, and a prosecution memorandum and Microsoft PowerPoint presentation "riddled with fiction, speculation and misinformation".

Late in 2016, Abrahams filed more "key" documents, claiming they had been mistakenly left out, blaming a "subordinate" for this.

In his affidavit filed last week, Booysen said that, in the interests of making progress in the matter, he would not oppose the late filing.

But, he said, they were taking the case no further and, in fact, further proved that there was no case for him to answer.

Among the latest documents are newspaper articles "containing the same tired lies", and no actual evidence.

'Ulterior, political purpose'

Abrahams had also again provided a "demonstrably untrue" statement from former reservist Aris Danikas - who is not on the witness list - which remained unsigned, dealing with alleged incidents outside of the indictment period.

There was also a statement from the former head of the unit, Colonel Rajen Aiyer, who also does not implicate anyone in any offences, and is not on the witness list.

Further, Abrahams had provided a memory stick containing "random footage of helicopter flights" not relating to any of the alleged offences.

"One video is of a scene where a police officer was shot during a robbery... it is irrelevant.

"The case against us rests on two deceased witnesses who do not implicate us and whose statements are hearsay twice removed and two witnesses who are not the list.

"It is clearly irrational to authorise our prosecution on that basis. Advocate Abrahams could only have done so for ulterior, political purpose."

Abrahams, who is opposing the application, has yet to file his affidavit.

The criminal matter cannot proceed until the application has been finalised.

Read more on:    npa  |  johan booysen  |  shaun abrahams  |  crime

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