DAYS OF ZONDO

The 2010 Soccer World Cup led to massive fraud and corruption within law enforcement agencies – Johan Booysen

By Marianne Thamm 18 April 2019

Former head of the KZN Hawks Major-General Johan Booysen during a press conference on November 16, 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen has told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that elements within law enforcement, including the NPA, had been captured to protect people in ‘political power’ and who were directly involved in defrauding the state of about R60-million in inflated costs relating to the 2010 Fifa World Cup held in South Africa.

In 2015 South Africans learnt that the US Department of Justice had uncovered evidence that South Africa had paid about $10 million to Fifa in bribes in exchange for votes for the international tournament to be held in South Africa.

The bribe, paid to Jack Warner, who was a member of the Fifa Executive Committee at the time, had been “disguised” as support for the “African diaspora” in the Caribbean.

The tournament, which took place between 11 June and 11 July 2010, attracted about 300,000 tourists who spent about R3.64-billion during their stay in the country. In 2008 SAPS announced that it would deploy about 41,000 police officers across the country at the cost of about R640-million.

There were a number of hungry bottom-feeders in South Africa who rubbed their hands at the possibility of raking in huge sums from the tournament. One was KwaZulu-Natal businessman, Thoshan Panday, a close associate of Edward Zuma, son of the then president of the country, Jacob Zuma.

The former head of the KwaZulu-Natal Hawks, General Johan Booysen, first felt the burn of the pushback from within SAPS around April 2010 when irregularities in SAPS supply chain management had been flagged by Brigadier Lawrence Kemp, the provincial head of finance.

Just about every transaction for the World Cup had gone through the books of Thoshan Panday. It just looked odd and suspicious. There were orders for blankets, TV sets and accommodation,” Booysen told the commission.

Before his lucrative contracts with SAPS, the commission heard that Panday’s Gold Coast Trading had been struggling financially. That is until he hit World Cup paydirt.

In the end, he scored R60-million, R45-million of which had already been paid out by SAPS, with R15-million outstanding.

Edward Zuma had later attempted to put pressure on Booysen to unfreeze the R15-million which he had described as a dividend due to him by Panday, with whom he had gone into business.

Panday had received his first payment of about R2.75-million in November 2009 and in the first week of May 2010 had purchased a Ferrari California for R2.5-million, putting down a deposit of R510,000.

Panday received further payments from SAPS in March, April and May 2010 totalling R60-million. Statements investigators had obtained from Panday’s bank account “showed a great deal of activity”, Booysen told the commission.

From the first payment on 20 November 2009 from SAPS, Gold Coast’s financial woes came to an abrupt end,” Booysen said.

The lucrative arrangement between SAPS and Panday had first come to light at a meeting on 3 May, 2010 when Brigadier Kemp, who reported to Booysen as his superior, had arrived with a report which he had intended to hand over to then provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni.

Ngobeni had been late for the meeting and Booysen had collected his copy of the report from Kemp and had also picked up Ngobeni’s copy, which had been left on the desk in the meeting room.

In November 2018, Ngobeni resigned from SAPS before an inquiry into her fitness to hold office was due to begin. She had been on suspension for more than two years before this as a result of her corrupt relationship with Panday.

Back in April/May 2010, a month before the World Cup, colonels Hans van Loggerenberg and Vasan Subramoney had registered the investigation into Panday.

Booysen told the commission that shortly after receiving the report from Kemp, Ngobeni had called him while he was driving home. The provincial commissioner had asked Booysen about the investigation into Panday.

Booysen said he had tried to explain, but Ngobeni had cut him short, saying that the investigation might embarrass the SAPS should the media learn of it and that he should immediately halt it.

The former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head said while he reported to Ngobeni as well as national DPCI head Anwa Dramat, Ngobeni had no authority to stop the investigation.

Booysen said he had later communicated with Dramat about the investigation into Panday and Ngobeni’s order for it to be squashed. Ngobeni, said Booysen, had been tipped off by someone within SAPS supply chain management that Van Loggerenberg and Subramoney had been sniffing around Panday’s contracts with SAPS.

Booysen said he had told Ngobeni he would do so in order to buy time. He later informed National DPCI head Anwa Dramat of the investigation into Panday.

Stopping it had been an unlawful instruction and you have to understand, in the police if you go in the opposite direction (of an order) you are dead in the water. In my mind, I was never going to stop it. I wanted to see how it developed,” said Booysen.

He said Ngobeni’s vindictiveness would see everyone involved in the investigation ostracised.

On 8 May a “very irritated” Ngobeni, taking a page from the later playbook of Gauteng Sports and Recreation MEC Faith Mazibuko, had once again called Booysen at home and had shouted at him.

Johan, I told you people to stop. What’s wrong with you?” Ngobeni admonished Booysen.

Booysen had again placated Ngobeni, saying that the investigation was on hold. The provincial commissioner had appeared happy at this response, Booysen told the commission.

A later forensic audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers had found a link between Ngobeni and Panday. Panday had also forked out R20,000 for a lavish birthday party for her husband, Brigadier Lucas Ngobeni, in 2011, although Panday had asked the hotel to reflect a total of R30,000 on the invoice.

Ngobeni had, said Booysen, made several further attempts at forcing him to stop the investigation.

In mid-June, Ngobeni had called a meeting in her 18th-floor office at the provincial headquarters in KwaZulu-Natal. Included were Ngobeni, Major-General Bongani Ntanjana, responsible for support services in supply chain management, Brigadier Kemp as well as one of the chief suspects, Colonel Navin Madhoe, of SAPS supply chain management.

She was angry. She went hammer and tongs for Kemp. She accused him of being more concerned about finance than the lives of citizens. The more he tried to explain, the more she interrupted to admonish him relating to two reports he had sent to the national office. She was almost out of control,” Booysen told the commission.

Madhoe and Kemp later left the meeting and Booysen had informed Ngobeni that the investigators’ concern was more about the fact that all the acquisitions for accommodation and other issues were going through the books of one businessman in Umhlanga Rocks, Thoshan Panday.

Her response to that was once again that the investigation had to stop, and then she said to Bongani Ntanjana that he should commence with an investigation. It did not make sense as Ntanjana had not been a detective for many years. He did not have any capacity in his office, he had no investigators. As it would turn out later we had to employ forensic auditors (PricewaterhouseCoopers).”

Two weeks later, Colonel Subramoney had provided Booysen with a follow-up report, a much more detailed one, and from reading that report “it was clear there were irregularities” and a “drastic inflation of prices”.

In late June 2010, Ngobeni tried again to shake Booysen and the investigation into Panday. This time she invited him to a boardroom in her offices. There Booysen found Panday, his attorney Tashya Giyapersad and advocate Muzi Mkhize waiting for him.

During this meeting I was very uncomfortable. I realised that Thoshan Panday was one of the main subjects of investigation, but it was almost as if he chaired the meeting.”

Panday and Giyapersad had peppered Booysen with questions in the presence of the provincial commissioner, said Booysen.

They were on a fishing expedition,” said Booysen.

The former Hawks head said he felt as if he had been ambushed.

I was trying to do some shadow boxing, trying to get out of there. One of the allegations they made was that Subramoney was extorting money from Panday. To my amazement the provincial commissioner, who had already told me to stop the criminal investigation, told me to investigate Subramoney instead.”

Booysen said he agreed to do this only if Panday was willing to provide an affidavit. Panday, said Booysen, had behaved as if he were the provincial commissioner while Ngobeni had just “sat there and listened to a suspect interrogating me about an investigation”.

In August 2010 the KwaZulu-Natal Hawks struck, raiding Panday’s home and office as well as the SAPS provincial headquarters and the home of Navin Madhoe from SAPS supply chain management.

Panday had been tipped off, however, and was not home when the cops arrived. He made his way there half an hour later.

Booysen told the commission that he had warned Edward Zuma, when the president’s son had met with him, to cut his losses and not do business with Panday. He was so concerned that he made an appointment to see the president at his home in Nkandla.

The son of the state president is getting involved with serious corruption within the police and I felt it incumbent on me to alert the state president,” Booysen said.

Booysen had in fact driven to Zuma’s home at Nkandla to discuss the matter, but the president did not seem keen to do so. Instead, Zuma directed Booysen and a friend to his nephew Khulubuse, who also lived at Nkandla.

Khulubuse Zuma had told Booysen that Zuma junior and senior were not on speaking terms, as Edward had not invited his father to a ceremony to celebrate a new home he had bought in Durban North.

Panday himself had later sought to interfere in the investigation, contacting a Warrant Officer Paul Mostert of the Cato Manor Unit and asking him to steal files related to his case from the DPCI offices. Panday had instructed Mostert to burn the building if he could not find the files.

Mostert had called Booysen and informed him of Panday’s plan and his refusal to play along. Booysen had later urged Mostert to tell Panday he had changed his mind. The DPCI then set up a sting, but nothing had come of it.

When that approach didn’t work, Panday, in 2011, had dispatched Colonel Madhoe and a Warrant Officer Deena Govender to attempt to coerce Booysen into co-operating. The two met at a hotel where Madhoe, dressed in a leather jacket and carrying a laptop, had asked Govender to leave.

Madoe had then opened the laptop and had pulled up files of police photographs of dead people.

It did not make sense to me that they came from police dockets. He said he could get more. He said he was under a lot of stress and asked if it were possible for me to assist him with the investigation.”

Madhoe, said Booysen, had shown him the photos as a subtle means of intimidating him.

Madhoe had wanted Booysen to backdate a document which would then have ensured that the entire case against Panday would collapse.

Booysen played along. The scene was then set for one of the most spectacular stings which is reported on by Jessica Bezuidenhout.

The sting and the arrest of Madhoe, however, was just the beginning of the nightmare Booysen would encounter as attempts to stop the investigation moved up a gear at the NPA, where Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi were firmly ensconced.

The KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head, like the national head Dramat, had become an obstacle to the criminal networks working within SAPS to defraud the state. Both would pay a bitter price for their professionalism.

Booysen will testify further on Thursday 17 April. DM

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