Cato Manor cops face 71 charges
Twenty former members of the disbanded Durban Organised Crime Unit face 71 charges, including 14 of murder, the Durban Regional Court was told on Thursday.
One of them, Captain Neville Eva, told the court he intended pleading not guilty to all the charges.
Also on the provisional indictment are 14 counts of defeating the ends of justice, and 14 of unlawful possession of weapons and ammunition.
The court was packed for the bail hearings of the 20, who stand accused of being part of a hit squad.
Eva said that when the Sunday Times published an expose alleging the existence of the hit squad, all members of the unit promised the then Independent Complaints Directorate (it has since been renamed the Independent Police Investigative Directorate) that they would co-operate with the investigation.
"Our attitude was to assist the investigation in any way possible."
Eva said the members were ordered to hand in their weapons, laptops and cellphones earlier this year..
They were also instructed not to take on any new cases, but to continue with pending cases.
Eva, a veteran of 27 years, said if they had intended to tamper with evidence, they had had six months in which to do so.
The 20 were arrested on Wednesday in a joint operation by the Hawks and the IPID.
Protesters supporting the 20 men stood outside the court building with placards.
Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele received rousing applause when he entered the public gallery.
There was a heavy police presence inside and outside the building.
People had to stand outside the court in the hallway, because there was insufficient space for supporters and families of the accused.
Magistrate Sharon Marks threatened to have the people removed if they did not keep quiet.