Cato Manor: Suspended Hawks boss hits back at ‘trumped-up’ charges

2013-05-05 00:00

Suspended Hawks KwaZulu-Natal head General Johan Booysen has challenged the racketeering charges against him and 27 members of the disbanded Cato Manor Serious and Violent Crime Unit in court, claiming they were aimed at tying him up in court for several years.

In an application in the Durban High Court this week, Booysen has asked that the court declare the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to authorise the racketeering charges null and void. The decision, he says, was an “abuse’’ and was based on “lies’’ or “pressure’’ from those who want to “prevent me from doing my job”.

Booysen’s application will have to be heard before the trial of the unit members can proceed. If it succeeds, the state will have to drop the racketeering charges against all the accused.

It will also weaken the individual and murder charges against the policemen, who face a collective total of 116 charges and who were arrested after a Sunday Times exposé of an alleged hit squad operating out of the unit.

In court papers, Booysen says he “stepped on people’s toes’’ by investigating SAPS “procurement irregularities” in March 2010 and finding links between senior police officers and a civilian. Booysen says that SAPS Provincial Commissioner General Mmamonnye Ngobeni called him to her office and introduced him to the civilian.

She then ordered him to investigate the investigating officer and stop the probe. While Booysen does not name the civilian, it is understood that he is businessman Thoshan Panday, who recently beat charges of trying to bribe Booysen. Panday has been investigated for allegedly inflating World Cup police accommodation costs by R60 million, by Booysen.

Booysen says he was told by then national commissioner Bheki Cele to continue with the investigation and did, but was arrested after the exposé.

“The only explanation is that the investigation was sufficiently sensitive to cause me to tread on higher ranking or connected toes. Hence the conflicting orders to cease or continue with the investigation,’’ Booysen says.

“I believe that the earlier attempts to suspend me were part of attempts to get me out of the way.

“There are persons within the SAPS and outside who would prefer to sideline me for as long as possible in order to prevent me from doing my job. In effect, they want to remove me from the police for years by joining me in a trial where there is no evidence implicating me in any of the offences,’’ he said.

Booysen said that only three of the state’s 290 witnesses mentioned him in two of the 23 dockets in the case against him and his men. One of those referred to him arriving at the scene of a shooting in a helicopter. The other noticed him at the scene of a shooting after the event.

The state has 15 days to respond to Booysen’s application.

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