Two 'hit squad' members walk free

Two members of the ‘Durban death hit squad’ walked free after the court withdrew charges.

Police waiting to arrest members of the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit. Picture: Supplied

DURBAN - Charges against two officers arrested in connection with alleged hit squad activities, by the Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit, were withdrawn on Thursday.

At least 20 members were arrested during raids 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.

Fired 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 denied wrongdoing and said a smear campaign was launched against it.