When Suzannah Patterson heard screams she thought it was from a hijacking, only to find scores of R100 notes fluttering in the wind.

Durban - A year ago, deputy national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Magda Stander approved cash awards for members of the Organised Crime Unit in Cato Manor.

On Thursday, a day before she retired, Stander signed notices of intention to suspend 23 members of the same unit, who are accused of operating the since disbanded unit as a “death squad”.

The members had been rewarded with cash bonuses of up to R10 000 – apparently for the same cases which have now got them into trouble.

Two weeks ago, 30 members of the unit and others, including Major-General Johan Booysen, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on 116 charges. These included 28 of murder, and multiple charges of defeating the course of justice, housebreaking, theft and racketeering.

According to the indictment, “in some of the killings, the unlawful activities were motivated by the desire to enrich themselves through state monetary awards and/or certificates for excellent performance and financial benefits from associations and/or businesses and/or individuals in conflict with the deceased in the preferred charge”.


Sources close to the unit said this was not the first time Stander had authorised the incentive awards for members. They said the awards dated as far back as 2007.

Some of the members even have the certificates proudly displayed at their offices.

A source said: “It is strange how the indictments say we enriched ourselves through these bonuses. It’s as if we signed off the authority for the bonuses ourselves. This was not the case. Members cannot reward themselves.”

The source said protocol dictates that for police awards and incentives, applications were made by the unit commander.

“The application is then sent to the provincial commissioner’s office where a committee sits. If it is approved, it then goes to the national office where another committee sits. The application passes through about five different panels before final authority is given. It is crazy that the members are accused of enriching themselves.”

On the police website, Stander confirmed her retirement on Friday after 41 years. She described her time as an “adventure I will never forget”. She placed on record her high regard for the senior police management.

Attempts to reach Stander were unsuccessful. - Daily News