Cato Manor forced confessions - claim
RECORDS in the Durban Regional Court have revealed how the controversial Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit allegedly used a fire hose and telephone directory to force an SBV employee to confess to a cash-in-transit heist.
Jaco Botes was then charged with conspiring to commit a R4.9-million cash-in-transit heist in 2007.
His co-accused, Adriaan Snyman, a former bodyguard for expelled ANC Youth league president Julius Malema, was also questioned by the unit.
The Sunday Times has obtained access to court records in which the men detail how members of the now-disbanded police unit forced them to confess to the charges.
Their statements were recorded in 2010, but were dismissed by Magistrate Fariedha Mohamed at the time because she was not convinced by their evidence.
As a result, she dismissed the defence's objection to the confessions being allowed in the court.
In December last year, the Sunday Times exposed how the unit had operated as an alleged hit squad. Several witnesses claimed that members "executed" suspects and often held booze-fuelled parties afterwards.
The newspaper's investigation sparked a probe into 51 suspicious deaths by the Independent Complaints Directorate, now known as the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
The Cato Manor unit was disbanded in February and 24 officers were transferred to the head office in Durban.
Court records seen by the Sunday Times this week state that, in May 2007, Snyman, a former SBV Services guard, Botes and two policemen, Wickus van Vuuren and Christiaan van Zyl, were arrested after allegedly plotting a robbery on the rooftop parking lot of a Durban shopping centre.
But their alleged plot fell apart when Van Zyl alerted SBV, a company that offers secure cash transfers, about the plan.
In his affidavit, Botes claims he was forced to strip naked while being interrogated. "They swore at me and told me I was going to s**t myself."
He said the police officers took him outside the station, produced a fire hose and allegedly threatened to beat him with it. "I believed the policemen were going to hit me with the hose."
Botes claimed he endured further humiliation when women at the unit's base teased him and joked about the size of his genitals.
The former SBV employee was then taken back inside and a officer, who was taking down his statement, allegedly hit him over the head with a telephone directory.
Botes also said he saw members of the unit assaulting "four black males ... one guy's arm was broken and the bone had come through".
He said he was later frog-marched into an office where Snyman was being interrogated. "Snyman told me to do what they told me (to do) or I would get hurt."
In his affidavit, Snyman said he was afraid of the unit's members because "people who are taken to Cato Manor are beaten, assaulted (and) shot".
He claimed this had led him to confess.
Snyman, Botes and Van Vuuren are scheduled to appear in court in July for closing arguments by the prosecution and defence.