SAPS goes to court again to block Booysen from returning to office

2014-09-25 00:00

EMBATTLED Hawks head Johan Booysen has had yet another obstacle thrown in the way of his return to office.

In their latest salvo this week, top cop brass launched an application in the Johannesburg Labour Court, insisting that findings of an internal inquiry were “irrational”.

This is the third such action lodged by the South African Police Service against Booysen.

This comes less than a week after he was cleared of various counts of misconduct by independent advocate Nazeer Cassim SC, who had been tasked with chairing his disciplinary hearing.

The senior advocate and acting judge was appointed by the police, and had scathing criticism for the manner in which Booysen was targeted.

Cassim found that national commissioner Riah Phiyega and other senior police officials, including KZN SAPS head Mmamonnye Ngobeni and suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, had a hand in ousting Booysen and keeping him out.

In 2011, Booysen was charged along with members of the now-disbanded Cato Manor Serious and Violent Crimes Unit (SVCU), who are alleged to have murdered 29 suspects, planting firearms to make the killings look legal.

The indictment authorised by the National Prosecuting Authority’s former acting head Nomgcobo Jiba claims Booysen ran a racketeering operation with his men, who are all suspended on full pay, and carried out paid hits while manipulating the SAPS system to secure promotions and merit awards.

The latest police court bid comes in the wake of significant legal victories by Booysen and his attorney, Carl van der Merwe.

It is understood that attorneys acting for the police alleged that Cassim had failed to consider all the evidence, specifically the testimony of Colonel Rajen Aiyer.

Aiyer, the controversial former head of the Durban Organised Crime Unit, came in for the most damaging lashing by Cassim.

“He is obsessed by the notion of his own importance, and his entire testimony was permeated by his political acceptability and self-importance. I find him not to be the kind of professional policeman one would expect holding the rank he holds. His tenor of evidence is one in which he emphasises his own importance but lacking in conduct justifying any usefulness,” he wrote.

“I think those in charge of the SAPS ought to carefully consider Colonel Aiyer’s continuous role in the police force. In his quest for self-importance and acceptance, he was determined to tarnish Booysen’s reputation irrespective of the overall interests of the police force.”

In 2011, Booysen twice successfully interdicted the police from suspending him in the Labour Court, with the police ordered to pay his costs.

He also had criminal charges against him set aside, but just days later was slapped with internal misconduct charges.

He was exonerated by Cassim, with the state having to pay his legal costs and those of two police advocates for the hearing.

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