'Death squad' under arrest
The organised crime unit charged with cracking down on violent crime in KwaZulu-Natal has been accused of being a criminal enterprise itself .
The unit's head, Major-General Johan Booysen, was arrested yesterday afternoon. His arrest signalled the end of the investigation into the Cato Manor unit, which has been accused of being a hit squad.
The main charge of rackeetering, according to Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman, Moses Dlamini, implied that the members of the unit had acted with common purpose.
The state alleges that under Booysen's leadership the 29 unit members committed murder and theft, defeated the ends of justice, and were in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
During the bail application of the 18 policemen arrested in June, the Durban Magistrate's Court heard that they had acted without warrants of arrest, and killed without due cause and merely on suspicion.
Dlamini said there were more than 100 charges against Booysen and his men.
Earlier yesterday, eight policemen - Shane Smith, Eugene van Tonder, Mukesh Panday, A Pillay, Vincent Auerbach, Nico Crous, B Zondi - and two National Intelligence Unit members handed themselves over to the police.
They were taken to their homes to help in the search for evidence.
One officer was arrested in Rustenberg; another handed himself over in North West.
After the arrest warrants had been signed, Dlamini said Booysen had been asked to hand himself over but did not do so.
"We then had to go and retrieve him," he said.
It is believed Booysen was present during the search-and-seizure operation at his home.
By 6pm yesterday, he was still being "processed" and his chances of being able to make an urgent application for bail were rapidly fading.
"The 12 arrested men will appear with the other 18 accused and the charges against them will be set out in the indictment [tomorrow]," Dlamini said.
The 18 men have already been charged with 71 counts - including 14 of murder, four of housebreaking, 14 of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, 14 of defeating the ends of justice, four of assault and three of theft.
But additional charges will be brought against them when they appear in the Durban Regional Court tomorrow.
One of the murder counts relates to the killing of taxi boss Bongani Mkhize.
He was gunned down three months after he obtained a high court order restraining the police from killing him.
Mkhize, 44, was gunned down by members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit while driving on Umgeni Road, Durban, in February 2009.
The unit's members said at the time that Mkhize shot at them and they returned fire, fatally wounding him.
In December, the Sunday Times published pictures of Cato Manor unit members seemingly celebrating at a crime scene.
Several witnesses claimed that unit members "executed" suspects and held booze-fuelled parties afterwards.
The 18 police officers charged are Gonasagren Padayachee, Adriaan Stolz, Paul Mostert, Eric Nel, Neville Eva, Adjith Ghaness, Phumelela Makhanya, William Olivier, Peter George, Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi, Mhlabunzima Thabethe, Enock Mdlalose, Jeremy Marten, Shane Naidoo, Raymond Lee, Anton Lockem, John Smith and Bruce McInnes.