Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Cato Manor members to be charged

v> 2012-08-21 09:00 Supporters of the Cato Manor cops protest outside the Durban Regional Court. Picture: Sapa Galleries · User Galleries · News in Pictures Send us your pictures · Send us your stories Related Links Cop watchdog failed Cato Manor cops get bail Cato Manor: Cele back at court More Cato Manor charges expected Shoot to kill in the dock Paddy Harper Investigators are preparing to charge up to 10 additional members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit for participating in alleged hit squad activities when the case returns to court Friday. They will also add additional charges to the 71 counts – including 14 counts of murder – currently faced by the 18 members of the OCU’s Serious and Violent Crime section who were arrested on June 20 in a swoop by the Hawks and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). Two members of the National Intervention Unit arrested along with them have been released after agreeing to turn state witness. Last week prosecutors in the case – a High Court date for which will be set on Friday when the indictment is served on the accused in the Durban Regional Court – were busy preparing documentation to facilitate the 10 appearing in court. It is not clear at this stage whether the additional accused will be arrested ahead of Friday’s court appearance or issued with summons to appear along with those already charged. City Press understands that the additional accused will be charged with involvement in the existing 14 killings, all of which were carried out during armed robbery investigations by the unit, and that further charges will be added regarding the alleged illegal killing of taxi operators or hitmen operating on their behalf. IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed that additional accused would be added and that the 18 current accused would also face additional charges. He was unable to provide further detail. “There will be additional accused added and there will be more charges brought,’’ Dlamini said. “The prosecution team is busy with the paperwork.’’ According to the initial charge sheet, the 18 were responsible for 14 unlawful killings in Durban and Zululand, as well as covering up the killings, planting weapons on their victims, robbery, assault, attempted murder and firearms charges. On Wednesday Carl van der Merwe, the lawyer acting for the 18 accused, lodged an application in the High Court in Durban to challenge the legality of the search and seizure operation carried out on their homes when they were arrested. They also want computers, phones, firearms and other items seized in the raids returned to them and are challenging the legality of the arrest warrants in terms of which they were picked up. In papers, Warrant Officer Paul Mostert, one of the accused, argues that the warrants were unconstitutional and “breathtaking in their scope’’. Mostert claims the warrants were used by the raiding squad under Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Kola to “roam at large’’ through his home and those of his co-accused, with male detectives unnecessarily and “distastefully’’ going through their wives’ underwear and confiscating goods belonging to their wives and children. He says the warrants are overly broad and “unintelligible’’ and gave the searchers no detail of the crimes allegedly committed by him and his colleagues. As a result, the warrants were used for a “fishing expedition’’ by the investigators. Mostert also claimed the Hawks leaked information about the arrests to the media to violate the rights of him and his colleagues. The state has 30 days to respond to the application, which will be heard in October. Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela referred City Press to Dlamini for comment. NPA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson was unavailable for comment at the time of writing. - City Press Comments by Sonny "ROAM AT LARGE" is nothing short of a 'Fishing Expedition!' How can such an ambiguous warrant be defined in LAW? What kind of 'warrant' will the NPA accept for the killings at the Lonmin Marikane mines? LAWLESSNESS by the ANC has become the 'ORDER OF THE DAY IN SOUTH AFRICA!" Some Earlier progress in the investigations. Cop watchdog failed 2012-07-22 10:00 Related Links Cato Manor: Cele back at court More Cato Manor charges expected Cato Manor cops to apply for bail Cato Manor bail application under way Cele backs Cato Manor cops Charl du Plessis South Africa’s police watchdog knew about alleged murders committed by the so-called Cato Manor “death squad” in 2008, but put the investigation on the back burner. In the years that followed, scores more people were allegedly executed by members of Durban’s organised crime unit. Officers from the unit are now standing trial for their alleged crimes in Durban and have been implicated in more than 50 murders. City Press can today reveal that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), formerly the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), was told four years ago about the unit’s alleged crimes. The information has emerged amid revelations by the IPID’s head of ethics that 81% of the cases closed by the police watchdog over the past two years were closed as “unsubstantiated” – many without a proper investigation. The IPID has denied the allegations and insists the case closure rate is a misrepresentation of the organisation’s statistics. City Press has obtained a copy of a document submitted to the IPID in which lawyer Nathi Shozi pleads for an investigation to “protect the lives and constitutional rights” of members of the KwaMaphumulo Taxi Association. “We fear that the current trend of killing suspects is likely to continue unless decisive action is taken,” he wrote. The complaint is stamped as “received” by the IPID on September 26 2008, shortly before a further 10 suspects in various cases were killed, allegedly by members of the Cato Manor unit. Sources inside the IPID say members of the unit were only arrested after reports by the Sunday Times in December led to the involvement of the Hawks in the investigation. In 2008, Shozi reported, among others, the deaths of KwaMaphumulo taxi boss Magojela Ndimande and his bodyguard, Sibusiso Tembe, who were killed on the N3 highway in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, on September 16 2009. This was one of the first killings by the unit to be officially reported to the police watchdog. The Sunday Times reported that witnesses said “the police fabricated claims of a shoot-out” in the killing of Ndimande and Tembe. But a subsequent ICD investigation report, which City Press has seen, notes that an investigator “attended the shooting at Howick...and exhibits were found on the scene – high-calibre firearms that were allegedly used by suspects to attack the police”. “There were no witnesses to refute the police version so the shooting was deemed justified until new evidence comes to light.” The case was closed as unsubstantiated by then IPID acting provincial head Sipho Nene on March 30 2009. This is just one of at least six of the Cato Manor cases involving the KwaMaphumulo Taxi Association killings that were closed as “unsubstantiated” by the IPID. City Press has seen part of a complaint which was submitted to the Public Protector by IPID Ethics and Risk Management head Amar Maharaj in March this year. It lists seven cases which were allegedly “finalised” after it was found that the shootings were all “justified”. The complaint notes that attorneys for the “Maphumulo Taxi Association approached the Durban ICD offices and submitted a detailed statement of their experiences, but no attention was paid and the matter was treated as not serious and soon afterwards another shooting occurred”. Moses Dlamini, IPID spokesperson, denied that cases had been “abandoned”, but confirmed that some case files were closed. “Witnesses were intimidated and told they would be killed if they spoke to investigators. Scenes were also tampered with,” he said. “Under these circumstances, is it surprising that some cases were closed?” Dlamini said cases that were closed were taken to the director of public prosecutions for a decision, while others were still investigated. “When there was no evidence to support prosecution, such matters would become inquests,” said Dlamini. He added that there were “many cases” which were inquests when the IPID set up a team to review cases involving the Cato Manor unit in December. Maharaj has also reported what he calls a “misrepresentation” of statistics to the Public Protector, based on complaints he received. A source in the Western Cape IPID provincial office told City Press officials that they were last month called into the boardroom where quality controls of IPID files were being completed en masse in order to close them. The source said this was a repeat of what happened last year, when staff members learned that a visit from auditors was imminent. “They just told us that we must get it done because the auditors were on their way,” the source said. According to the directorate’s 2010/11 statistics, 4 635 of the 5 695 (81%) cases the IPID closed that year were closed as unsubstantiated. Dlamini said that this was not an accurate representation. He said the number of cases closed as unsubstantiated had to be compared to the total workload of cases. Dlamini said this meant about 55% of cases were closed as unsubstantiated. According to this calculation, the IPID could only substantiate complaints made against police in a little over 10% of the cases before it in that financial year. According to the yearly report, the workload (including new and carried-over matters) was 8 424 cases for 2010/11. Dlamini said the bulk of unsubstantiated case closures fell under misconduct complaints against the police during service delivery protests that had “already been dealt with by courts or the police”. Dlamini said the ICD had a high completion rate (87%), which refers to the number of investigative activities it completes in respect of its workload. “Closure of a case is the very last step. We don’t view closure and completion as the same thing,” he said. City Press

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