Over 50 cases pending against KZN police unit

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) is investigating 51 cases against the now disbanded Durban Organised Crime unit, spokesperson Moses Dlamini said on Thursday.

He said all the cases related to the unit when it was based in Cato Manor.

The unit was shut down in February amid allegations that an alleged death squad operated in the Cato Manor crime unit.

Most of its members have since been incorporated into the Hawks.

Dlamini said he could not confirm how many deaths there were in the 51 cases and said it was possible that more cases could be opened.

The unit’s commanding officer, Major-General Johan Booysen, who is also the KwaZulu-Natal boss of the Hawks, was issued with a notice of suspension earlier this week.

Booysen faces allegations of negligence or failing to act in connection with the alleged death squad which operated in the Cato Manor crime unit.

Fair chance
However, on Thursday the Durban Labour Court set aside the suspension issued by national Hawks head Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat.

Dramat’s suspension letter had been issued despite an earlier Labour Court interdict ordering that Booysen stay in office until he was given a fair chance to respond to allegations of serious misconduct.

The Daily News reported on Thursday that more than 25 members of the Durban organised crime unit and supporters gathered at the courtroom in solidarity with Booysen.

“People support us because they know what we are doing is good,” he was quoted as saying.

“Their support is heart-warming. I’ve even received calls from previous police commissioners and current commissioners and generals from other provinces.”

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said: “We always respect court rulings.”

Asked about the letter of suspension being issued despite the interdict, Polela said: “I am not familiar with the nitty gritty.”

High court order
Dlamini confirmed that one of the cases being investigated by the ICD was the 2009 shooting of taxi boss Bongani Mkhize.

Three months prior to being killed by the police, Mkhize made headlines in KwaZulu-Natal by securing a high court order forbidding the police from killing him.

He had claimed that the police wanted him dead to avenge the death of the Kranskop station commander Superintendent Zethembe Chonco, who had been investing the taxi violence between Mkhize’s kwaMaphumulo Taxi Association and the rival Stanger Taxi Association.

Chonco was ambushed and killed on August 27 2008, as he transported taxi war suspects to court.

The Sunday Tribune reported in November 2009 that eight people, including Mkhize, had been killed by police in connection with Chonco’s death.

In dismissing Booysen’s suspension on Thursday, Judge David Gush ordered the State to pay costs and adjourned contempt of court charges brought by Booysen’s lawyer Carl van der Merwe.

The state did not oppose the application.—Sapa

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