More witnesses against Cato Manor cops

2012-06-26 22:34

Durban - More witnesses to the crimes allegedly committed by the Durban organised crime unit at Cato Manor have come forward, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate said on Tuesday.

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said he could not provide any details on the witnesses or how many.

"[But] "lots of those people have come forward since the bail application seeking witness protection".

The 18 people who have been accused of hit squad activities face 71 charges which include 14 of murder, 14 of unlawful possession of ammunition, 14 of unlawful possession of firearms, and four of house-breaking.

They were arrested last Wednesday by a joint Hawks and IPID task team and were released on bail of R5 000 each last Friday.

Magistrate Sharon Marks ordered them to report each Friday to their nearest police station and also ordered them not to contact any witnesses.

Dlamini said could not say to which cases the new evidence related as he did not want to prejudice the State's case.

"For them [the witnesses who have come forward] the fear is quite palpable," said Dlamini.

'No teeth'

During the bail hearing last week, the State claimed witnesses were afraid and had been threatened by the officers.

This was one of the main reasons put forward by prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa last week for the State opposing bail.

Dlamini said that not all the cases had been reported to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) - the predecessor to IPID.

Since April 2012 police were obliged by law to report all deaths as a result of police action to the IPID.

Prior to April, he said there was no obligation on the police to report matters to the IPID or the ICD.

There was merely a memorandum of understanding between the police and the ICD, but this memorandum "had no teeth".

He could not say how many of the murder cases pending against the officers had been investigated by the ICD.

"There needs to be an assessment first to say what went wrong. Is there evidence of such and then who needs to answer what? And then [determine] who attempted to defeat the course of justice by either their action or omission."

Currently there were no investigations against ICD/IPID officers in terms of the Cato Manor unit, but he said that two IPID officers had been suspended "at some point".

16 more murder cases

This had been a "precautionary suspension".

During the bail hearing last week both Mathenjwa and National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said that a further 16 murder charges would be brought against the men.

Mhaga said that as far as he knew, the NPA had not yet received applications for witness protection, but these applications could still be in the process of being drawn up.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela could not immediately be reached for comment.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-06-27 09:29

    "He could not say how many of the murder cases pending against the officers had been investigated by the ICD." So because you "think" they murdered people you'll just charge them anyway? You don't even know if the charges have been investigated?? So how do you know they murder? God, this thing just stinks more and more everyday. The defence team has already discredited 2 state witnesses, let's see what "evidence" these "witnesses" have.. I cannot believe that an entire unit can be charged witht he same crimes when they were not always an entire unit during operations. What a witch hunt!

  • Mart - 2012-06-27 09:53

    To keep us the public more informed and in a better position to make up our own minds about the cases, give us a 'pen picture' of each of the deceased. Supply us with each one's past criminal record as well as any charges ever laid against them , a toxicology report on their blood, and a testimomial for each from a reliable source ie employer, priest, medical doctor etc. This trial, whether they are guilty or not, must open up the 'death penalty debate' and renewed calls for a referendum to be held on the desirability of the death sentence as a punishment for certain offences must be made. This country has enough challenges without the added burden of caring about patently undesirable elements and their 'criminally anti-social behaviour'.

  • jennifer.c.pretorius - 2012-06-27 11:29

    Prov comm Mamunye Ngobeni and husband Brig Lucas Ngobeni have friends in high places. they will fabricate all the evidence they need to keep these cops from being cleared.

  • logen.naidoo - 2012-07-01 18:47

    I believe these cops did good job in line with their duty to clean up the area from criminals and now they are treated like criminals for doing their work in crime fighting. I wish they win this case as the goverment is also scared of them and what dirt they dig up om palimenty member

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