State's cocktail of ineptitude and intent to blame for ‘death squad’ delays - lawyer

Former Hawks boss Johan Booysen in the doc with his fellow accused in the Durban High Court.
Former Hawks boss Johan Booysen in the doc with his fellow accused in the Durban High Court.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Just who is responsible for delaying the trial of the so-called Cato Manor “death squad” was at the centre of an application before the Durban High Court on Monday to have charges against the band of cops withdrawn.

Former KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen and 26 other officers‚ some of whom have left the police service‚ were arrested in 2012 on allegations that they had been running a "death squad".

They face a litany of charges‚ including theft and murder‚ specifically of suspects during the course of their arrests. They allegedly killed suspects or rivals of taxi operators they were doing business with and planted weapons to frame crime scenes — collecting incentive awards for good work as reward.

Booysen has successfully had racketeering charges against him set aside‚ only to have them reinstated by National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams in 2016.

Further review applications launched by Booysen and his co-accused are pending before the court.

Monday’s application seeks to have charges against the 27 withdrawn until their review applications of racketeering certificates are finalised.

With delays in the courts‚ this would realistically only happen by 2020 or 2021.

Anton Katz SC‚ for the policemen‚ said that the state had through a cocktail of ineptitude and intent‚ hamstrung the start of the trial.

He said that the prosecution team had intentionally abused the court process.

Sello Maema‚ for the state‚ said that it was the defence bringing “piecemeal” review applications that had caused the delay.

“We have been ready to proceed with the trial in this matter since 2012. This is an example of a group of people who do not want their day in court.”

Arguments in the matter continue.