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Booysen: ‘I was prosecuted because I got in Edward Zuma’s way’

Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen was charged with racketeering because he got in the way of the business interests of former president Jacob Zuma’s son Edward, the Mokgoro inquiry heard on Monday.

Booysen was testifying before the commission looking into whether deputy national prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba and special director Lawrence Mrwebi are fit for their posts at the National Prosecuting Authority.

The inquiry — chaired by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro — was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa after Jiba and Mrwebi were criticised in a number of court judgments. One of these was the judgment in which KZN high court judge Trevor Gorven set aside as ‘irrational’ Jiba’s decision to authorise a racketeering prosecution against Booysen.

The racketeering charges related to what was publicly known as the Cato Manor “death squad” after a series of articles were run in the Sunday Times newspaper, about the alleged extra-judicial killings of 45 people by the Durban Organised Crime Unit, whose office was in Cato Manor. Last year, the Sunday Times apologised for the articles with editor Bongani Siqoko saying the stories may have been used for “a parallel political project aimed at undermining our democratic values and destroying state institutions.”

READ MORE: NOT the news. More damage expected in Sunday Times fake news fallout

On Monday, Booysen repeated before the Mokgoro panel that none of the documents — those in the docket and a further four documents — relied on by Jiba to authorise the prosecution linked him to any possible racketeering offence. On this he was backed up by evidence in the first week of the inquiry of prosecutor Jan Ferreira. Ferreira testified that there was simply no evidence before Jiba to justify the racketeering charge.

Booysen also described how he had investigating Durban businessman Thoshan Panday for “various attempts were made to frustrate and stop the investigation. An attempt to bribe me with R2-million led to the arrest of a police Colonel Navin Madhoe …. After he placed close to R1.5-million in my car. The balance was to be paid later.”

The Panday investigation was into “serious irregularities” in R60-million worth of contracts between the South African Police Service and Phanday during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

READ MORE: Mokgoro inquiry on hold over Jiba’s fair trial rights

When he was asked by evidence leader Nasreen Rajab-Budlender why he thought the was being prosecuted when there was no evidence he told the panel about a meeting he had had with Edward Zuma during the course of the Panday Investigation.

He said that, although R45-million had already been paid on the contracts, he had put a freeze on the outstanding R15-million because it was the subject of a corruption investigation. He was later told by his assistant that Edward Zuma had asked for a meeting. When they met in his office, Edward Zuma told him that he was Panday’s “silent partner” and he was not getting his dividends because of the freeze on the R15-million.

“He told me he would like me to release the money,” said Booysen.

He also spoke about how, in lawful interception of Panday’s calls, Zuma’s nephew Deebo Mzobe had told Panday that “Booysen’s wings will be clipped”.

Booysen was due to be cross-examined after the lunch adjournment.

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Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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