EXCLUSIVE: Jerome 'Donkie' Booysen - 'Gangsterism is not the way to go'

2018-06-01 14:26

Jerome "Donkie" Booysen, alleged by police to be the head of the notorious Sexy Boys gang and who has been shot at five times in less than a year, says he is nothing like the powerful underworld figure he is publicly portrayed as.

"I've got nothing to hide," he said matter-of-factly on Wednesday, sitting at the head of a long wooden table, building plans and documents spread out in front of him, in a section of his northern suburbs home which he has converted into a boardroom.

He insisted his focus is not on gang activities, as many may assume, but on his family, their passion - rugby, and the property industry through which he makes money.

"I'm a businessman and I just want to be a father to my kids," Booysen said.

"I'm not interested in gangsterism."

"Where the people come on with this gangsterism and gangster stuff, they must come and prove it to me because maybe I don't have a lot of friends in the police and that's why they can point fingers because they [are] pointing the finger away from them," he said.

"To be honest with you, gangsterism is not the way to go. That's a full stop and it's a stop street. There's no future in gangsterism... I will say, rather go the legitimate way."

Booysen was hesitant this week to speak on the record and even more so to be filmed, saying he did not want to come across as an attention-seeking individual.

He said he would rather stay out of the limelight and focus on his work and family.

On Wednesday Eyewitness News ran a story that police minister Bheki Cele had held a meeting with top crime intelligence officers in Pretoria about priority crimes and reported that it was understood only one name was mentioned during this meeting - Booysen's.

When News24 approached him for comment on this, he invited the reporter to his home - to show that he has nothing to conceal - and then reluctantly agreed to go on the record.

'Victim, not a suspect'

Booysen, making it clear he was not challenging Cele, nor police, said he found it surprising his name may have been mentioned during a high-level Crime Intelligence meeting.

He said he had been the target, and therefore a victim and not a suspect, in five shootings, and that his name possibly being mentioned in a meeting therefore pointed at something amiss in Crime Intelligence.

Earlier this week, News24 reported that 27 Crime Intelligence officers in the country had criminal records.

Booysen, referring to a shooting in which he was wounded five times at Cape Town International Airport in October, pointed out that he was a victim inside a national key point and yet no arrests have been made to date.

READ: Security at CT airport, a national key point, under scrutiny following 'gang' shooting

When News24 visited his home on Wednesday, a younger relative of his politely ushered the team into the house.

A relaxed Booysen walked into a spacious and spotless living room, greeted the team.

Throughout the visit, he apologised several times when his cellphone rang and he made calls about children who needed to be fetched from school.

He was interrupted a few times by young relatives who arrived home and then came to ask him questions.

Booysen explained that he had worked hard to make money and that he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

At the entrance to his highly-secure home, beyond a safety gate, is a large fish tank. Fish which have fins similar to the outline of a shark's, are swimming in it.

Beyond this and on entering the home is a living room where photographs of him and his children, grandchildren and other relatives, are displayed.

Accused, jailed and murdered brothers

On the walls of Booysen's boardroom are photographs of rugby players, including one of him and his three brothers, as well as framed and signed rugby shirts.

His three brothers are Colin Booysen who is a co-accused in an extortion case with suspected underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack, Michael Booysen who is serving a life sentence in jail for murder, and Llewellyn, who was killed in a shooting around 1997.

Positioned on the tiled floor and lining the wall are several shiny trophies of different heights for rugby-related achievements.

In another large room alongside a pool, a Mother's Day helium balloon still hovers out of reach on the ceiling.

Booysen's name has been in several news stories over the past few months because of his brother Colin's extortion case.

He has also been shot at five times - two incidents in which he was wounded - over roughly a year.

Wounded in two of five shootings

In the first incident he was wounded in the neck while on his way to extend his condolences to the family of Deon Williams who was shot dead on May 8, 2017, near Elsies River.

Booysen said he had worked in the area about two decades earlier, knew Williams family, and had been on the way to extend his condolences to them when he was wounded.

On October 18, 2017, he was wounded five times in the shooting at Cape Town International Airport and the next night in the hospital where he was being treated, there was a skirmish at the medical facility.

Booysen said, after that a bizarre story had surfaced that this incident involved a man with snake venom trying to get to him to try and attack him, but he said this was false information intentionally meant to divert focus from other matters.

He spoke much more enthusiastically and at length about his work, pointing at the large sheets of paper with building plans spread out in front of him.

Washing pots to buying properties

Booysen said he started working while in Grade 11 and held down a job from 17:00 to 01:00.

After his schooling, he washed pots in a canteen for what has become a popular store which sells both clothes and food.

Booysen was a building inspector with the City of Cape Town for 21 years and retired in 2006.

Five years before he retired, he got involved in buying and renting out properties - he would snap up properties at auctions and focus on sales in execution.

He took out a loan against his pension and bought his first two properties, one for as little as R100 in Delft.

Over the years, Booysen has developed this aspect of his work and is in the process of converting some properties into student accommodation.

He was previously involved in owning nightclubs, but he scaled this aspect down and his focus is now firmly on the property industry.

Rugby history

Booysen achieved his Springbok colours in rugby in the 80s and is still heavily involved in the sport in that he is the president of the Belhar rugby club, which his father started in 1983.

"Rugby is our family thing," he said.

This is evident in his boardroom with the numerous rugby-related photographs and memorabilia, and Booysen patiently explained the background.

An ornamental silver rugby ball was also placed toward the centre of the big wood boardroom table.

Throughout Wednesday's visit, Booysen repeatedly said he had nothing to hide.

"I never in my whole life smoke or drank… I'm just a normal person."

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Read more on:    jerome “donkie” booysen  |  cape town  |  crime

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