Thirty police officers, who appeared in the Durban Regional Court, were an organised crime enterprise that enriched itself by killing, according to the indictment against them.
It described the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit (the original name for the Cato Manor branch of the Durban Organised Crime Unit) as an "enterprise", headed by KwaZulu-Natal Hawks' boss Johan Booysen.
"The unlawful activities of the enterprise began to manifest themselves from May 2008 to September 2011 through a pattern of racketeering activities," the state claimed in the indictment. " … In some of their killings, the unlawful activities were motivated by the desire to enrich themselves through state monetary awards and/or certificates of excellent performance …," it continued.
The policemen have been accused of obtaining financial benefits from associations, businesses and individuals which were in conflict with the people they allegedly killed.
The indictment did not provide details of how the officers enriched themselves, or of the benefits they were said to have received. According to the state, the officers acted with "common purpose", but it conceded it does not know "when and where the common purpose was formed".
The case against the officers — 28 KwaZulu-Natal organised crime unit members and two National Intervention Unit (NIU) members — has been postponed until October 29 to allow the prosecution time to provide the men's legal team with documentation about the case.
According to the indictment, the policemen face two charges of racketeering, 19 of murder, one of attempted murder, nine of housebreaking, three of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and 25 of unlawful possession of a firearm. They also face 24 counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, six of theft, three of unlawfully pointing a firearm, one of malicious damage to property, and 23 of defeating the ends of justice.
Sue the state
On Friday morning, family and friends of the officers gathered outside the court building. The courtroom was packed to capacity and security guards had to refuse entry to some people.
The Mercury newspaper reported on Friday that charges against another two NIU members were withdrawn earlier this year. Dumisani Nzama and Vusi Ngondwana had since reportedly briefed a lawyer to sue the state. They were arrested in June with 18 Durban Organised Crime Unit members.
While their names were on the charge sheet at the first court appearance, they did not appear in court with the others. Shortly after that, journalists were told the charges against them had been withdrawn.
The Mercury reported that attorney Malcolm Lutge had confirmed he was representing Nzama and Ngondwana in a civil claim against Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. The other 30 policemen are out on R5 000 bail each. Among them is the head of the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal, Johan Booysen.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson Moses Dlamini said Wednesday's arrests completed its investigations into the Cato Manor unit. – Sapa