The plot to nail top Hawk

2014-09-22 00:00

NATIONAL Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and top cop brass have been scathingly criticised and accused of pursuing an agenda to nail KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen.

The criticism is contained in the findings of an internal police misconduct hearing against Booysen that was concluded last week.

Independent advocate Nazeer Cassim, who chaired the investigation, found Booysen should return to work immediately.

But his return has been blocked already, with the state advocate taking the findings on review.

Cassim found that Phiyega and other senior police officials, including KZN Police head Mmamonnye Ngobeni and controversial suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, had 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.

Booysen had racketeering charges against him set aside in February, but a departmental misconduct investigation ordered by police top brass just days later kept him out of office.

He was charged with bringing the police into disrepute for his handling of three investigations but was completely exonerated by Cassim, in his findings which were obtained by The Witness.

“The objective facts demonstrate an agenda to get rid of Booysen because he was perceived (rightly so I may add), as a determined, professional, competent and tenacious policeman who would arduously strive to bring the wrongdoers to book,” he wrote. “In my view it would be unjust not to forthwith reinstate Booy­sen to his position so that he can do what he is best suited to do, that is fight crime,” he said.

In all three charges of misconduct, Cassim highlighted irregularities in the testimony of witnesses for the state (see page 2).

Ballistics expert Christaan Mangena, a key witness in the Oscar Pistorius trial, was castigated for his testimony against Booysen.

Mangena had examined the ballistic evidence of a shooting four years after it took place.

“In my view, Captain Mangena, who prepared the ballistics report some four years later, did not have regard to the objective findings of Stoltz [a forensic expert who had examined evidence after the shooting].

“It raises, to my mind at least, an improper purpose in seeking to discredit Booysen, unless there is a reasonable innocent explanation,” he found.

“If in fact the employer actually believed that it could establish a case against Booysen based on the evidence of Colonel Aiyer [another witness, see separate story], this was a serious error of judgment and, worse still, a strong indication that the employer sought to ­create a case where one did not exist,” the advocate wrote.


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