Booysen’s fate to be decided

2014-02-08 00:00

THE future of the suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head — whose unit is accused of murdering 29 people — is now in the hands of a Durban high court judge who will decide whether racketeering charges against him will be dropped.

Yesterday, Judge Trevor Gorven reserved judgement on General Johan Booysen’s application to have charges of racketeering, murder and defeating the ends of justice against him dropped.

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 criminal 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 date of the trial is expected to be set on June 23, but its future could also be determined by whether Booysen’s charges are dropped.

The defence team is attacking the decision to charge him by Jiba on August 17, 2012, claiming it was unconstitutional, irrational, based on statements that at the time did not exist and that the statements didn’t implicate Booysen in any criminal activity.

However, the State said the same statements could be interpreted differently and read with other evidence in their possession, which has not been disclosed, revealed that there was prima facie case against Booysen.

Advocate Michael Hodes said Jiba had relied on other evidence that had not yet been made available to the defence to come to her decision.

“While it is uncontested that statements in the dockets don’t implicate Booysen, we cannot release all our evidence.

“At the time of charging Booysen, we had a violent situation unfolding. Sources wanting to provide evidence were killed. Jiba has said Booysen conducted the SVCU as an enterprise. They killed members of the Maphumulo Taxi Association, civilians and armed robbers. They place firearms on the scene. Their unlawful activity was driven by payments made,” said Hodes.

Hodes said attempts by the defence to obtain further evidence from the State had been refused. He said the judge should not set Booysen’s charge aside over the issue of the statements as there is “more than sufficient evidence”.

“The NDPP made a rational decision. There is nothing irrational, illogical or evasive in this court. Here there is an investigation into 29 deaths, all under the leadership of one person,” said Hodes.

But Advocate Anton Katz, appearing for Booysen, called his client’s charge “an abuse of power” that lacks evidence and said that Jiba was “off her rocker”.

“The NDPP has behaved in such a manner that this court will have to decide [in favour of my client]. Jiba has not admitted to her mistake. She made a decision to prosecute on documents that were not in existence,” he said.

Katz is seeking an order declaring the decisions to charge Booysen invalid and inconsistent with the constitution and interdicting both the NDPP and Public Protector from charging Booysen on any charge unless facts are placed under oath implicating his client.



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