Top cops’ war gets nasty

2012-03-03 16:49

A court application by the Hawks’ head in KwaZulu-Natal has exposed the provincial police following the closure of a “death squad”.

Lieutenant-General Johan Booysen is desperately fighting for his job after being threatened with suspension by his boss, Hawks head Anwa Dramat.

He has gone to the Durban ­Labour Court in an attempt to ­prevent Dramat from suspending him. His job includes overseeing the actions of the Cato Manor ­murder and robbery unit, which was shut down in December.

The Sunday Times revealed in December alleged unlawful killings by the unit. At least 51 suspicious killings are linked to the so-called Cato Manor “hit squad” and its members have been served with ­notices to suspend, similar to those served on Booysen.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela confirmed they would contest Booysen’s court application.

Booysen, a police veteran with 32 years’ service, claims there is more to his imminent suspension than the alleged actions of his unit.

In court papers, he claims the “smear campaign” against him is orchestrated by millionaire businessman Thoshan Panday and the provincial police supply chain boss Colonel Navin Madhoe.

He has been investigating the two since April for allegedly inflating police’s 2010 Fifa World Cup hotel bills by R60 million and revealed in court that provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni had closed down his probe.

Panday is also linked to ­Ngobeni – he paid for her cop ­husband Lucas’s lavish birthday party in May 2010.
The investigation into Panday was re-opened on the instructions of Dramat, who also authorised an investigation into Ngobeni.

Last month, the National ­Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute Ngobeni due to a lack of evidence. The following day, Booysen was served with a ­notice of suspension.

Booysen also claims that ­Panday and Madhoe used crime scene ­photographs – allegedly ­supplied to them by former Cato Manor unit head Colonel Rajen ­Aiyer – to ­intimidate him.

Pictures of policemen drinking alcohol and pointing guns, and of the unit members next to mourning family members of alleged victims of the unit, were published in the Sunday Times.

Booysen’s allies in the SA Police Service claim Panday and Madhoe supplied a dossier containing these pictures to the media in a bid to ­discredit him and close down the investigation into them.

Madhoe and Panday – who Booysen arrested in a sting operation last year for allegedly offering him R2 million to taint evidence – have claimed in court that Booysen came to them for money. Madhoe claimed Booysen was after him to get at Ngobeni as he wanted to be the next provincial police boss.

Both sides claim illegal surveillance has been used against them.

Aiyer on Friday denied any involvement in the dossier against the Cato Manor unit, but said he was aware that his phones and his home had been illegally bugged.

A transcript of a telephone discussion between him and an associate plotting Booysen’s downfall has been leaked to the media in an ­apparent bid to counter the dossier.

Panday denied any involvement in a “plot” against Booysen and said he now “felt” for the senior cop.

Polela said they were probing the claims against the unit in the dossier, but also the authenticity of its contents and where it came from as it contained stolen police material.

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