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The head of the Hawks police unit in KwaZulu-Natal and 23 members of the now disbanded Durban organised crime unit received suspension notices on Friday.
They were served with notices of intention to suspend them after several criminal charges were filed against them, their lawyer, Carl van der Merwe, said.
He is representing all 23 members and KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major-General Johan Booysen.
Van der Merwe said they would be challenging the notice.
Hawks spokesman Macintosh Polela said he could not confirm the notices as it was an internal matter.
“Save to say that the necessary disciplinary steps are being taken against those members, SA Police Service processes preclude me from communicating about internal matters,” he said.
Van der Merwe said they were all instructed by national Hawks head Lt-General Anwa Dramat to take leave on Wednesday.
By Friday morning, all the policemen were served with the notice of intended suspension.
Some of the policemen were served with the notice on Thursday evening at 8pm, and some at midnight.
Some of them have been working for more than two months since they were first arrested.
One of the members facing charges, former captain Eugene van Tonder, who left the police more than a year ago, was also served with the notice.
The policemen, however, will continue to receive a salary.
They had until Tuesday to respond.
Currently out on bail, the policemen face two charges of racketeering, 19 of murder, one of attempted murder, nine of housebreaking, three of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and 25 of unlawful possession of a firearm.
They also face 24 counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, six of theft, three of unlawfully pointing a firearm, one of malicious damage to property, and 23 of defeating the ends of justice.
The charges relate to the death of suspects, and allege that the unit operated as an enterprise under Booysen’s command.
It is further alleged that the policemen obtained financial benefits from associations and businesses, and individuals who were in conflict with the people they allegedly killed.
They will appear in the Durban Regional Court again on October 29. - Sapa