During Apartheid, security forces in South Africa were notorious for their torture methods used against Africans. ” the horror of torture was embedded in South Africa’s history, and its past bore memories of widespread and institutionalized torture, which for the apartheid security forces had been a matter of routine.”
Here are some documented cases and publications:
In 2004 I witnessed and documented the actual torture of an African suspect in custody by members of the Cato Manor unit in KZN, Durban. I managed to obtain three short phone recordings and video footage. I made an internal disclosure to the head of the Organised crime unit and in charge of the Cato Manor unit, Director J.W. Booysen at the time. My reporting was received with empathy and humor, as he replied “That’s how my boys are getting results from those K@@@@@!” I was then warned not to show this footage to anyone and give him a copy.
During the same period of time, various other complaints of torture by the very same members of the unit surfaced.
Thomas Shabalala, a politician of the IFP was murdered on January 2005. I was accompanying Dir, Booysen to the crime scene that night and a registry entry was logged to my duty files ( all although I had mistyped the date). I processed the crime scene, looking for bullets and cartridges, while taking photos that I later handed over to Booysen.
I recall Booysen telling me later on that he had a lot of pressure from “High up” to produce a suspect soon.
Within days, the Cato Manor unit arrested a suspect by the name of Nkosinathi Chiya, a chemical engineering student that did not fit the profile of a contract killer.
Booysen disclosed to me that he was irritated with this arrest because he was not convinced that this 21-year-old man was the shooter. He said,” I told them so, but it is up to the courts, it is not my problem now”.
Chiya and his family complained that he was tortured by the Cato Manor members, and his description of the torture methods was exactly the same as demonstrated by my own video capture of torture. Here is a reference to the relative media publication at the time :
A few years later Chiya was released on bail, as new evidence of his innocence surfaced.
Chiyas’s life was placed on hold and mysteriously, he remained on bail for 10 years, while the docket file ” disappeared”!
Another incident of a torture case that I am aware of, was after the accidental death of a child close to Amanzimtoti in 2005, when I was part of the investigative team that found its body. It was a scene that would haunt me forever.
A few days later on, Inspector Mostered, a member of the Cato Manor unit, arrived at my computer store and spoke to me about the case. He told me that ” We worked for hours on the mother” as they suspected that she had something to do with the death of her child. By ” worked ” he meant tortured her. An article was published later on, claiming that the mother of the dead child, complained that she was detained and driven to the Cato Manor unit’s office, and tortured. She described the exact same torture method, that I had video recorded in 2004.
According to the article here, stated that “Director Johan Booysen, the head of the serious and violent crime unit, said on Sunday that he disapproved of such tactics and did not believe his detectives would use them. In the event that the allegations proved correct, “strong action” would be taken.”
But a few months prior to that incident, I had personally disclosed to Booysen of torture at the Cato Manor office and handed over to him video footage as proof. Clearly, he lied and covered up for his “pet” unit.
Then in 2010, Kwazi Ndlovu a 15-year-old schoolboy was shot in his home in Esikhawiniam by members of the Cato Manor unit, while mistakenly entering the wrong house.
The boy was sleeping after watching tv, and he was shot multiple times with full automatic rifles ( R5).
I studied the crime scene report, the independent experts report and the relative information available. I immediately recognized the pattern of wrongful killing by the police unit, as well as the protocol used to plant a firearm close to the deceased body in order to justify the killing.