The suspension of KwaZulu-Natal hawks boss Johan Booysen has been overturned in the Durban high court.
In overturning the suspension on Wednesday, Judge Anton van Zyl ruled that national Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza did not have a case against Booysen, whom he has accused of committing fraud.
“There is not even prima facie evidence that such fraud had been committed or, if it had, that the applicant is implicated therein,” said Van Zyl.
Not only did the judge say there was insufficient evidence to back up the allegations, he also ordered that Ntlemeza be barred from suspending Booysen again pending the outcome of the current disciplinary process.
Van Zyl ordered Ntlemeza – in his capacity as the national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, commonly known as the Hawks – to pay Booysen’s legal expenses.
Ntlemeza suspended Booysen on September 14, shortly after he was appointed national head of the Hawks.
Booysen was suspended amid allegations of fraud amounting to R15 384.62, an allegation he has denied.
Ntlemeza’s legal team had argued that the court was not the proper forum to hear an application against the suspension, but Van Zyl ruled that the court was entitled to hear it.
Ntlemeza, in his submissions to court, claimed that Booysen and the men tasked with investigating a police officer’s assassination fraudulently received a monetary reward for shooting dead six innocent men.
Ntlemeza said further that while the award was for tracking down the men who assassinated superintendent Zethembe Chonco in August 2008, the case numbers used to secure the award were for unrelated cases of housebreaking and motor vehicle theft in Howick.
Booysen was accused of supplying false case numbers in a bid to obtain the award.
But Booysen denied authoring the document that resulted in he and his men receiving the award for tracking down and killing Chonco’s killers. He denied that he had anything to do with the granting of the award.
In his ruling, Van Zyl questioned why Ntlemeza had chosen to ignore Booysen’s representation and evidence.
The judge said Ntlemeza could not simply suspend a person and that there had to be “a rational basis” for a suspension.
He said Ntlemeza not only got the amount of the award wrong, but the evidence also showed clearly that Booysen played no role in the awarding of the R10 000 award.
“There is not a shred of evidence that the applicant [Booysen] was in any way involved in formulating its content and the respondent’s [Ntlemeza] conclusion to the contrary is at best, entirely speculative,” said Van Zyl.
The judge said it was striking that Ntlemeza had opted to implement disciplinary proceedings despite a lack of information to back up his allegations against Booysen.
“The conduct of the respondent [Ntlemeza] nevertheless deserves censure and as a mark of the court’s disapproval, I consider the costs on a scale as between attorney and client would be justified,” said Van Zyl. – ANA