South Africa

BRUSH WITH DEATH

Harrowing attack on me could have been a hit or a failed hijacking, says ex-Hawks boss Johan Booysen

Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alon Skuy)

Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen says that after watching footage of the ordeal at gunpoint outside his Pretoria home on Monday, he is not ruling out an attempted hijacking.

“It was a harrowing experience. Thank God the firearm failed to go off. My first impression is that it was an attempted hit. The guy actually pulled the trigger twice. After viewing the CCTV footage I do not discount a failed hijacking,” Booysen told Daily Maverick on WhatsApp just before midnight on Monday.  

“Either way, I’m relieved that I survived. I will definitely be more vigilant. I have been warned about my personal safety, but admittedly became careless.”

The attack took place at about 2.30pm, according to the police.  

News24 broke the story about an hour and a half after the ordeal, and quoted Booysen as saying the confrontation did not follow the modus operandi of an attempted hijacking. 

“This is not a hijacking, where a person is followed home. This vehicle had not been following me. They were waiting for me when I pulled in.”

He told the publication one of two perpetrators pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t discharge.

Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo told Daily Maverick the nature of the incident would only be known once investigations were complete.

“I am unable to confirm or deny if this was an assassination attempt, as has been alleged in the media. That will form part of the investigation. What I can confirm is that a case of pointing a firearm was opened at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria today.

“I am unable to give you the name of the victim.

“It is alleged that the victim was driving out of his yard (Booysen told News24 he was driving into the complex) when he was accosted by two suspects, who pointed [at] him with a firearm.”

He said the “victim” did not recognise the men.

A resident of the complex said he arrived home “about five to six minutes” after the incident.

The man agreed to speak to Daily Maverick on condition that his name not be published, as protection from “criminals”.

“The security firm that looks after the complex – Interactive Security – is just around the corner. Booysen was standing outside his place. There was lots of security, lots. The police arrived about 10 to 15 minutes later. The complex is very secure, and Interactive Security is very proactive, quite brilliant. There is just one entrance and exit to the complex.”

Interactive Security refused to comment, saying the company would not divulge details relating to clients.

It would not be a stretch to, at first glance, assume Monday’s incident was an attempted hit, given Booysen’s high profile in exposing corrupt elements within the police, the National Prosecuting Authority, the political realm and population at large when he was still KZN Hawks head, and his continuing to testify about this in various forums. 

He has been in the media spotlight for years as he fought what has since been revealed to have been a smear campaign against him as he was pursuing investigations into allegedly corrupt top-ranking police officers and connected businessmen and politicians in the province.  

Most of this information is already in the public domain since Booysen has written a book about his time as Hawks head and has appeared before the Zondo Commission.

He has also appeared before the Mokgoro Inquiry into the fitness to hold office of former deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and former head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit Lawrence Mrwebi, where he has implicated the same people in attempts to scupper his investigations, bribe him or to set him up.

The case of Thoshan Panday – who was under investigation by Booysen for allegedly siphoning millions from the state in Soccer World Cup 2010 contracts via corrupt relationships with cops – is back in court in February

During a police budget debate in Parliament in 2018, DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard alleged that a plot had been hatched by former president Jacob Zuma, former ANC KZN secretary Super Zuma and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala to put a hit on Booysen.

She said the chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Dudu Myeni, was also “implicated” in the plot, which was allegedly to be carried out by Umkhonto weSizwe veterans living in Cornubia, north of Durban.

A senior police officer told Daily Maverick he did not believe Monday’s incident was an assassination attempt, and that there was a good chance it could have been an attempted hijacking or robbery.

Several residents in the area of Booysen’s complex said there had been a spate of break-ins in the neighbourhood over the past few months.

Kohler Barnard said that upon reading the initial report by News24, an attempted hit should not be ruled out. 

She said the incident could be linked to some of the cases Booysen has investigated and the powerful enemies he made.

Police should also not discount that the incident could be related to Booysen’s current occupation – investigating cash-in-transit heists, she said. DM

 

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