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'Hit squad' in court

Twenty officers were arrested in a raid by the Hawks on Wednesday.

Twenty officers were arrested in a raid by the Hawks on Wednesday.
Hawks,pen,Major General Johan Booysen,Cato Manor police death squad
Local

JOHANNESBURG - There was heavy security at the Durban Regional Court on Friday, where eighteen police officers Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit were applying for bail. 

Twenty officers were arrested in a raid by the Hawks on Wednesday.

They were part of the unit which was shut down earlier this year after allegations emerged in the Sunday Times.

The court was filled with the relatives of the 18 officers. 

The men face a total of 71 charges which include 14 of murder, 14 of unlawful possessions of ammunition, 14 of possessions of firearms and four of house breaking. 

Amongst the accused are a gravely ill captain who is suffering with a heart condition and a warrant officer whose 25-year-old brother died this week.

Charges against two of the officers were withdrawn on Thursday leading to speculation they may now turn state witness. 

The two were part of the national intervention unit and not the Durban organised crime unit.

A joint investigation by the Hawks and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) resulted in 60 detectives conducting the search and seizure raids at homes across Durban and Gauteng on Wednesday. 

The unit headed by Major-General Johan Booysen was disbanded earlier in 2012, after allegations surfaced that officers had been involved in the deaths of several suspects.

Booysen always maintained that the allegations were part of a smear campaign and was not among those arrested on Wednesday.

(Edited by Clare Matthes)


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