South Africa


Johan Booysen: ‘I feel vindicated’ as NPA drops charges

Archive Photo: Major-General Johan Booysen Hawks boss in KwaZulu-Natal leaves the Durban magistrate court., 24 August 2012 Photo: TEBOGO LETSIE

NPA boss Shamila Batohi has withdrawn racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen. He welcomed the news, but the NPA is still deciding whether to pursue other criminal charges against him and members of the Cato Manor ‘death squad’.

Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen welcomed the NPA’s decision to drop racketeering charges against himself and his SAPS colleagues on Tuesday, saying it signalled a shift away from politically-influenced prosecutions.

I feel vindicated and I’m grateful that at last, we have an NDPP that is not influenced by political considerations,” said Booysen on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning the NPA announced that National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi had decided to drop the racketeering charges against Booysen and his colleagues in the now-disbanded Cato Manor serious and violent crimes unit, accused of various crimes linked to bribery and extrajudicial killings.

Booysen has maintained that the charges were politically motivated and a panel of prosecutors appointed by Batohi found there was no merit in the case. Charges were first instituted by former deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba in 2012 and again by former NDPP Shaun Abrahams in 2016.

The unanimous view of the panel is that ‘in respect of the authorisations a proper case was not made out in the cases presented’,” said NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke in a statement.

The panel has recommended that the authorisations, both of Adv Jiba and Adv Abrahams, are invalid. After careful consideration of the report and other relevant material, and a discussion with the panel, the NDPP has decided that the said authorisations are invalid.”

Booysen told the State Capture Commission of Inquiry in April 2019 how he was targeted because he refused to scrap investigations into politically-connected characters. He successfully challenged multiple proceedings related to his arrest but was effectively sidelined until he took early retirement in 2017.

Booysen’s unit led the investigation into an alleged R60-million corruption case against Durban businessman Thoshan Panday, accused of scoring irregular and lucrative SAPS tenders.

Former provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni told him to back off and fellow cop Colonel Navin Madhoe requested that Booysen alter documents to protect Panday.

Madhoe tried to bribe Booysen with R2-million but the Hawks head led a sting operation that saw his colleague arrested. Madhoe had also shown Booysen pictures of dead bodies, which in retrospect appeared to be a threat to expose the region’s so-called “death squad”.

When a R15-million payment to Panday’s company was frozen amid the corruption investigation, then-president Jacob Zuma’s son Edward Zuma paid him a visit requesting the funds be released to his supposed business partner.

The former Hawks boss has also testified about efforts to frustrate an investigation into the abuse of the Crime Intelligence Secret Service Account, which implicated former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

Booysen was arrested along with other members of the Cato Manor team on racketeering and murder charges related to alleged extrajudicial killings after the Sunday Times splashed the story on its front page, allegedly using information from crime intelligence members who wanted the officers sidelined. The newspaper later apologised and retracted its story.

Booysen on Tuesday said he believed the murder charge against him had been withdrawn, but the NPA’s Makeke said only the racketeering charges against Booysen and his colleagues had been dropped.

She said charges of murder, housebreaking, theft and defeating the ends of justice will be referred back to KwaZulu-Natal acting NPA head Elaine Zungu “to reassess the evidence in each case and decide whether to prosecute individuals who may be implicated in those matters”.

Where there is sufficient evidence that actions of the police amount to criminal conduct, those responsible will be prosecuted and held accountable,” said Makeke.

Booysen said that while he feels vindicated by Batohi’s decision, years of politically-motivated allegations and cases against him and officers under his command have taken their toll. DM


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