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Ipid swoops on last of 20 Durban officers over 2018 murder

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) was on Friday set to arrest the last two of 20 Durban police officers picked up since last week on charges of torture, murder, kidnapping and defeating the administration of justice. 

Following the initial publication of this article, Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa confirmed that in fact three more officers — Rajan Sanders (47), Riyadh Adam (39) and Devendra Chetty (49) — had appeared in the Durban regional court on Friday morning. They were released on R3 000 bail each and will appear with the rest of the 18 arrested earlier on 29 October.

“The number [of arrests] increases because as we keep arresting, more information comes out and some approach the investigating officer to come clean and tell what they know,” Langa said.

Earlier this week, sources said at least one officer may be linked to the theft of 1.5-million rounds of ammunition from a warehouse in the city’s harbour during looting and vandalism in July.

Nine officers were arrested last week and another nine on Tuesday morning.

According to IPID, the officers face charges relating to the death of 32-year-old Reagan Naidoo while he was being questioned at the Chatsworth police station in 2018.

Sources close to the case said at least one of the officers arrested was also caught allegedly selling ammunition to known criminals and drug dealers in the Chatsworth area. An inquiry docket has been opened by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), which is investigating the ammunition theft.

The officer’s name cannot be published because he has not been charged. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions’ office in Durban is still formulating charges.

The sources said the officer also led the questioning of Naidoo. The investigators contacted the State Security Agency (SSA) because they suspected the ammunition might be related to the stock stolen from the harbour warehouse.

The SSA notified Crime Intelligence, which set up a meeting with the suspect because he indicated that he might have more information regarding the whereabouts of the stolen ammunition. It was only when Crime Intelligence’s team arrived that they identified the suspect as being a well-known member of KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial organised crime unit in its narcotics division, the sources said.

The Hawks officer investigating the ammunition theft was then contacted and a docket was opened. The police officer has since been removed from his post.

The South African Police Service spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Brigadier Jay Naicker, would not comment on whether any other charges were being investigated against any of the men arrested and referred all queries to the Hawks and Ipid.

Langa said investigations were ongoing against all of those arrested. The Hawks did not respond to inquiries.

The police officer is alleged to have close relations with a known gang leader in Chatsworth who deals in drugs, guns, ammunition, and other illicit items. Some of the stolen ammunition was allegedly taken to this gangster, who was selling it on.

The police officer’s father was arrested in November last year for being in possession of 34 unlicensed firearms linked to various murders. The arrest came after the national political violence task team, which President Cyril Ramaphosa established last year to investigate political murders, followed up on information that firearms were being stored at a house in Sydenham, Johannesburg.

The guns have been linked to two murders in the Western Cape; two police murders and one political murder, the sources said. The case was registered in Mayville, Johannesburg. The police officer is still to be charged as an accomplice in the case against his father.

The Hawks have a dedicated team of detectives investigating the circumstances of how the consignment of ammunition imported from Brazil was stolen when looters broke into a number of warehouses in the harbour. Some of the ammunition has since been recovered at various locations. 

According to the Ipid’s summary of events leading to the death of Naidoo on 28 August 2018, members of the police’s Durban K9 Unit, Chatsworth Trio Crime, Durban Flying Squad and Provincial Organised Crime Unit picked him and two other men up regarding a firearm sold to Naidoo after it was used in an earlier murder case.

The men were taken to Chatsworth police station for questioning. According to Langa, the three were allegedly assaulted by police officers. The Trio Crime unit and Flying Squad were called in to assist in the search for the gun that Naidoo apparently had.

Naidoo collapsed in the early morning hours of the following day, and was taken to a local hospital where he was dumped. A security guard took the registration number of the vehicle used, which led to Naidoo’s death being linked to the police.

It was only after an independent post-mortem requested by the Naidoo family that pieces of the foil wrapper of a pie were apparently discovered in his throat. He had also suffered blunt trauma to the head, a broken pelvis, broken ribs and other injuries.

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