WATCH: 'I don't feel relieved, I feel angry', says Booysen about dropped Cato Manor charges

2019-07-17 13:19
Former head of the KZN Hawks General Major Johan Booysen. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

Former head of the KZN Hawks General Major Johan Booysen. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

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Former Hawks official, Major General Johan Booysen, says he is still angry and that the word "relief" was not the correct word to use to describe how he felt about the withdrawal of charges against him and his co-accused in the Cato Manor Death Squad saga.

It was all smiles in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Wednesday after all the charges against Booysen and his co-accused were withdrawn. 

The withdrawal came after new National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shamila Batohi announced on Tuesday last week that the racketeering charges would be withdrawn on the basis of a panel recommendation.

READ: NPA boss drops racketeering charges against Johan Booysen & co

There were tears and hugs were exchanged in the public gallery moments after court adjourned.

Speaking to the media outside, Booysen said he was not relieved because he never thought he was guilty of any crimes.

"To say I am relieved, I don't think it is an appropriate statement to make. I don't feel we had done anything wrong. I feel angry [about] the way the prosecutors protected their political masters. We were portrayed as villains and the criminals who died in shootouts with these members were portrayed as [victims]."

He said that when he was arrested, there was a cabal from the then Pretoria leadership of the NPA who were leading the prosecution.

Last week, Booysen laid charges of fraud with the Hawks against the prosecutors in the matter, advocate Sello Maema and Moipone Noko, for "misrepresenting evidence".

Reading out a statement on behalf of all the officers, Penny Katz said the arrests were carried out in a cavalier fashion.

"The members were not given an opportunity to state their respective versions of events. They were paraded before the media and detained in police cells with common criminals."

'Suspensions, humiliation and disciplinary processes'

Katz said that during the seven years since the arrests, the members were subjected to suspensions, humiliation and disciplinary processes.  

"In each and every instance, the members were exonerated by independent presiding officers."

Outside court, Booysen repeated statements from his testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry in April, claiming that former minister of police Nathi Mthethwa pressured prosecutors to arrest the unit on racketeering charges.

During the Mokgoro inquiry into the fitness of advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi to hold office, Booysen said Jiba, a former acting NPA boss, decided to prosecute him without having enough evidence.

Mthethwa and Jiba have denied Booysen's claims.

The unit was termed the "Cato Manor Death Squad" after the Sunday Times reported on a series of claims against the team of officers.

The report led the police and NPA to charge Booysen and his team.

In 2012, they were arrested and charged with 116 criminal counts, including racketeering, murder and attempted murder.

In 2018, the Sunday Times apologised.

Booysen accepted an early retirement agreement from the police. His last day of service was on February 28, 2017.

The panel - comprising advocates Rodney de Kock, Ivy Thenga, Shareen Riley and Elijah Mamabolo - unanimously concluded that "in respect of the authorisations, a proper case was not made out on the papers presented".

The authorisations had been signed by then NPA heads Nomgcobo Jiba and Shaun Abrahams.

A series of other charges - including murder, housebreaking and defeating the ends of justice - would be referred back to the acting Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, advocate Elaine Zungu, to decide whether to prosecute the "individuals who may be implicated in those matters".

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Read more on:    npa  |  hawks  |  johan booysen
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