Exiled cop to spill beans on ‘death squad’

Durban29102012. cato manor cops leaving magistrates court.

Durban29102012. cato manor cops leaving magistrates court.

Published Oct 30, 2012

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Durban - A former police reservist and friend of the KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss, Major-General Johan Booysen, claims he has evidence of the alleged atrocities perpetrated by the disbanded Cato Manor organised crime unit.

The man, a Greek national who fled South Africa more than three years ago because he said he feared for his life, is poised to become one of the State’s key witnesses in the trial of Booysen and 29 of the unit’s policemen, who are accused of operating it as a “death squad”.

The policemen appeared in Durban Regional Court on Monday. They were told the matter had been transferred to the Durban High Court, where it would resume on February 5, when a trial date is expected to be set.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesman, Moses Dlamini, confirmed on Monday that the former reservist had been twice interviewed at a secret European location by Hawks investigators and a member of the prosecuting team.

 

It is believed he will testify via satellite communication.

The man worked as a reservist with the Cato Manor unit for more than 10 years. He also owned a computer business, Technotronics, in Anton Lembede (Smith) Street.

In an e-mail to the Daily News, he said he would give evidence only from Europe. “I will never go back to South Africa. Those people will kill me,” he said in the e-mail.

He said he fled because he knew the “dirty work” of too many dangerous people, and claimed to have “hard-core” evidence against the unit which he had sent to government officials and the SA Human Rights Commission.

 

“I have secretly captured photos and kept diaries of a lot of the alleged executions,” he said, referring to the killing of suspects by the unit’s officers.

The witness also claimed responsibility for posting on the internet several videos of the unit

, titled “police torture in SA”.

He claimed in the e-mail that he had extensive details about the alleged atrocities and had witnessed several of the alleged “death squad” killings. He also accused policemen of sharing money and goods taken at crime scenes.

Booysen said on Monday that he was not worried about the allegations.

“He must be a man and come to court and prove his allegations. He fled South Africa like a thief in the night,” he said. “I have nothing to hide.”

Booysen claimed the witness had turned against him after he refused to promote him to the rank of a captain.

“Yes, we were friends. But he crossed that line when he wanted me to wave a wand and promote him. When I did not comply [with] his demands, he went to the media and said he was not being promoted because he was white. On that basis, I took away his firearm and suspended him,” Booysen said.

“At the same time it emerged that he owed investors in his business money. He then packed up overnight and fled the country.”

Booysen said the witness had contacted him by e-mail.

“He made all sorts of claims, including that I had been promoted because of him. He is mad. I am not afraid of him. He is just a jealous and vindictive person.”

Dlamini told the Daily News that Ipid’s investigation was wrapped up and the matter was ready for trial.

“All the side issues are not a distraction for us. It will not impact on the case,” he said.

On search warrants recently declared invalid, he said this was a technical issue.

“The person who obtained the warrant should have executed it. This did not happen, therefore it was declared invalid. But this does not affect us in any way.”

 

He said the unit’s former commander, Colonel Rajen Iyer, could also be called as a witness.

“There has been so much of talk about why Colonel Iyer was not arrested. It’s a simple matter of that he has not been directly linked to any of the cases,” Dlamini said.

“We can only arrest a person if they have a direct link to the case.”

Daily News

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