Letter suggests KZN Hawks head facing revolt from elite officers under his command

2014-05-15 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’S Hawks head is facing a revolt from the elite police officers under his command, a letter circulated within the unit shows.

In 2012, Brigadier Patrick Mbotho took over running the province-wide squad of top cops responsible for investigating the province’s most notorious criminals and gangs from Major-General Johan Booysen when Booysen was suspended.

Booysen was charged with racketeering as part of the “Cato Manor death squad” case against 30 officers.

Mbotho, who was involved in investigations into Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir in 2011, came to KZN with a strong message putting criminals on notice that their time was up, but now, the letter claims, trouble is brewing.

The Witness this week obtained a copy of a letter addressed to the national police commissioner and the national head of the Directorate Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) unit.

The letter paints a picture of a deeply demoralised unit, snowed under by an avalanche of cases. It also claims that officers seen to be aligned to Booysen’s administration are being sidelined from the newly formed DPCI and that Mbotho was trying to derail Booysen’s return to the unit.

The letter claimed these frustrations were shared by officers at other units, including Port Shepstone, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay.

However, spokesperson for DPCI’s national office, Paul Ramaloko said yesterday their office had not officially received the grievance and would deal with it once it was received.

The Witness has, however, ascertained that the letter has been informally seen by police top brass.

Mbotho last night dismissed the letter, although he confirmed its existence, and said he did not believe it came from his unit’s members.

He said the document had been put under the door of every member in the Durban unit. Brigadier Mbotho said if members were too afraid to confront him personally about concerns they might have, there were processes they could follow without having to divulge their names, such as via their union.

He said allegations in the document, for example those relating to Major-General Booysen, made “no sense”.

Mbotho said he had no power to influence decisions about Booysen’s suspension nor to delay his return to office and his members would know that.

“I am at a level lower than him [Booysen] so I have no say over him,” he said.

Asked if he planned to investigate the origins of the letter, Mbotho said he would leave it to the national office to decide what action to take because he was implicated in the document.

“I don’t want to be a player and a referee,” he said.

The letter’s authors alleged Mbotho was crippling the unit by “systematically” removing resources from it.

They were concerned that when the restructuring of the organised crime units was finalised with deployments to the new DPCI they would have been overlooked while “hand-picked” members of “Mbotho’s A team” would be given preference.

“We believe that Brigadier Mbotho has been sent here to KZN to derail the very successful processes put in place by General Booysen, to ensure that only persons that meet the requirements of persons with a political agenda and political alliance, are to be considered for the as yet-to-be-established DPCI.”

Criminal charges against Booysen were withdrawn in the Durban high court in March and immediately afterwards the police instituted disciplinary action against him.


Booysen confirmed this week that internal disciplinary proceedings have since commenced against him but have currently been adjourned sine die (indefinitely).

“I am still extremely confident that I will prove my innocence in these disciplinary proceedings as well,” he added.

Booysen said he had not seen the letter referred to in the article and preferred not to comment on it.

Meanwhile, the letter’s writers say they are suffering from the void left by the suspended members of the Cato Manor unit facing the “death squad” charges. They said they have had to take over many complex investigations for which they are not equipped, including murders, ATM bombings, cash-in-transit heists, robberies and the like.

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