Cato Manor cops face 71 charges

The Cato Manor death squad faces at least 71 charges, including murder.

Some of the members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime United. Picture: Facebook

DURBAN - At least 20 members of the notorious Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit will face 71 charges, including 14 counts of murder.

Earlier on Thursday, the so-called "police death squad" appeared in the Durban Regional Court to apply for bail.

The suspects were arrested on Wednesday.

The unit was disbanded in 2012, following reports that officers were involved in the death of several suspects.

The squad was lead by Major General Johan Booysen.

An investigation into the unit was launched by three separate bodies including the Hawks, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and the South African Police Service.

Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele was in court as the 20 policemen applied for bail.

According to the provisional indictment, the squad faces a total of 71 charges.

These include 14 counts of defeating the ends of justice, and 14 charges of unlawful possession of weapons and ammunition.

One of the accused, who has served in the police force for 27 years, told the court that they had already handed in their weapons, laptops and cellphones earlier this year.

He also told the court that they had six months to tamper with evidence if they wanted to.

The group promised to cooperate with investigations.

The unit has always denied guilt and claimed a smear campaign was launched against them.