Durban - A Durban father who praised the police after the arrest of two suspects who allegedly murdered his son in a dramatic home invasion has in the same breath criticised the government for suspending members of the old Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit for allegedly running a “death squad”.
Prominent businessman Dan Naidoo – the father of John Naidoo, 31, who was shot in the back of the neck and killed in his Glenmore home when a gang of four men invaded their home two weeks ago – said criminals were “taking advantage” of the fact that the unit had been disbanded.
However, a new organised crime unit has now been put in place, under Brigadier Patrick Mbotho, to tackle serious and violent crimes in the province.
It was members of the new unit – Warrant Officers Viresh Panday, Rajesh Maharaj and Deena Govender – who swooped on two suspects at their homes in Inanda and Cato Manor this week.
“These are the men that cracked the case. They worked around the clock, and they were keeping me informed. They are so good at their job. They phoned me at 12 o’clock at night and told me they were making an arrest. The perpetrators confessed and told them exactly what happened,” Naidoo said.
“It was a botched house robbery. They were under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and they confessed that they had been drinking at a shebeen in Chesterville earlier that night,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo said one of the gang members had given his gun to one of the other robbers to hold while he tried to open the safe, before his son got up to try and open it. But when another accomplice accidentally set off the house alarm, he panicked and fired a shot before fleeing with valuables.
“They didn’t even know that he was dead. If they had tied him up and asked for money, they would have got it. There was no need to kill,” Naidoo said. “There is a total lack of respect for life.”
“I haven’t slept for days because I promised that I would not rest until they are caught. I am elated that, at least in a certain sense, we have some closure.
“I am very happy that the special task team, together with the SAPS, made the arrest, but I am finding it difficult to perceive why people who are doing such good work are being targeted by the authorities. Why, when they are putting away the bad guys?” Naidoo asked. “They are blamed for being a hit squad, but against who? Not against innocent people,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo also questioned why police were not more vigilant in stopping and searching vehicles for weapons.
“Why is it that when it is dark there is not a single policeman around? This takes us back into a laager where we are afraid and suspicious,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo, who said he fought in the struggle against apartheid, and whose father Chin Naidoo was president of the former SA Textile Union in 1958, said he was disillusioned with the government. He said he had removed his picture of former president Nelson Mandela from his office wall because his government had failed its citizens.
“I have every right to say that because my son, whom I spent 31 years bringing up, has been destroyed. The rule of law has been eroded,” Naidoo said.
SAPS spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that two suspects aged 27 and 29 had been arrested and charged with murder and armed robbery.
“They will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday… and the police are still looking for the other two suspects”.
Independent on Saturday