Beginning of end of Booysen ordeal

2014-02-27 00:00

SUSPENDED KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Major-General Johan Booysen is off the hook on racketeering, murder and other charges, but the former acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, has come under fire for her decision to prosecute Booysen.

The charges against the top cop were set aside in the Durban high court yesterday, with Judge Trevor Gorven lambasting Jiba, saying the documents on which she relied to prosecute Booysen did not provide a rational basis to do so.

Booysen faced racketeering, murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice charges since August 2012.

The state alleged that he and 27 other policemen from the now defunct Cato Manor Organised Crime Unit had operated as an enterprise, carrying out paid hits in the taxi industry, and that they had killed suspects and planted firearms on their bodies.

Booysen subsequently brought and was granted an application to have the charges set aside, arguing that there was no evidence in police dockets implicating him in the crimes.

The charges against Booysen and the unit followed an intense investigation by the Hawks into Durban businessperson Thoshan Panday concerning accommodation for police during the 2010 World Cup.

Panday, it was revealed, was a business partner of Edward Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son. Charges against Panday were withdrawn last year.

At the heart of yesterday’s judgment was a certificate authorising Booysen and the unit’s arrest, and their charges.

Judge Gorven found the certificate was flawed and not correctly authorised, and therefore held no merit. This effectively means that none of the charges against Booysen and the other officers hold any weight, and that all charges against them could be withdrawn.

Speaking after the hearing, Booysen said while he was relieved, this was not the end.

“It’s not over … but the beginning of the end. I knew from day one what was behind this and I have no doubt in my mind the truth will be revealed and justice will be done,” he said.

“I have total faith in the independence of our courts,” said Booysen, who faces an internal hearing today for allegedly not taking action against officers under his command.

Judge Gorven said Jiba’s decision to prosecute Booysen relied only on information in statements in dockets. But of 23 dockets furnished, Booysen was only mentioned in two; and of the 290 statements, Booysen was only mentioned in three.

Jiba’s prosecution also only relied on information supplied by a Captain Rajen Aiyer, an Ari Danikas and a Mr Ndlondlo.

“Aiyer’s statement dealt with office politics while the statement was not signed or dated and did not cover the period related to the charges in question. YouTube video footage submitted as evidence did not even feature Booysen,” said Gorven.

Booysen, in his application, accused Jiba of lying that she had four statements from Aiyer, Danikas and Ndlondlo in her possession.

Judge Gorven further castigated Jiba for her “deafening silence” to Booysen’s allegation that she had lied.

He said as an official of the court, she should know how important it was to ensure that her affidavit was entirely accurate.

“The court is entitled to draw an inference adverse to the NDPP. The inference in this case need go no further than that on her version, the NDPP did not have before her those annexures at the time [she decided to charge Booysen],” said Govern.

He said most significantly, an inference must be drawn that none of the information that Jiba said she relied on linked Booysen to the charges.

Continuing to pour cold water over Jiba’s attempts to prosecute Booysen, Gorven said the charges did not meet even the barest of minimum requirements.

“Even accepting the least stringent test for rationality imaginable, the decision of the NDPP [national director of public prosecutions, Jiba] does not pass muster,” reads his judgment.

“I can conceive of no test for rationality, however relaxed, which could be satisfied by her explanation.

“The impugned decisions were arbitrary, offend the principle of legality and, therefore, the rule of law, and were unconstitutional.”

Gorven rejected the state’s argument that Booysen’s application should be adjudicated in Pretoria, since the NDPP was based there.

Booysen had argued that since he was facing the charges in the Durban high court, his application should be heard there.

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