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State withdraws charges against so-called Cato Manor police hit squad

Today marks exactly seven years since more than 20 members of the Durban organised crime unit based at Cato Manor were arrested on charges including murder and racketeering.

FILE: Prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi (second from right). Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - Seven years after more than 20 members of the Durban organised crime unit based at Cato Manor were arrested on charges including murder and racketeering, the State has officially withdrawn the cases against them.

Prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi announced last week that a team of prosecutors reviewed the cases against the officers - including former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen - and found a proper case had not been made out against the accused.

The racketeering charge was first authorised by fired deputy national prosecutions director Nomgcobo Jiba in 2012, but successfully challenged by Booysen.

The case was then authorised by former national prosecutions director Shaun Abrahams, but this has been reviewed by Batohi.

Today marks exactly seven years since the Cato Manor police officers were arrested - but it also marks the end of battle which has come to be known as one of the key chapters in the state capture project.

In a statement, the policemen say they are grateful for Batohi’s decision - but have reflected on seven years of being subjected to humiliation, suspension from work and disciplinary proceedings.

However, in each case they were exonerated by independent presiding officers.

Some of them - those who have not retired or passed on - plan to return to work.

They say the real victim of the saga is the public who have been deprived of dedicated and skilled detectives for seven years, and have had to endure increasing violent crime in the province.

The men have opened criminal cases against the police officers and prosecutors who pursued the cases against them.

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