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High court found no ulterior motive when racketeering charge authorised — Jiba lawyer

The high court did not find any ulterior motive or bad faith when Nomgcobo Jiba authorised a racketeering charge against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen, said Jiba’s counsel at the Mokgoro inquiry on Monday.

Booysen was testifying before the commission looking into whether Jiba, the deputy national prosecutions head, 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 high profile and politically sensitive 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.

In his judgment, Gorven criticised Jiba, saying that when she was accused by Booysen of mendacity, her response was “deafening silence”.

On Monday morning, Booysen testified 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.

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 retracted the stories and apologised for them.

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

In cross-examination, Jiba’s counsel Norman Arendse SC suggested that when the high court had to decide whether Jiba was fit to be an advocate, it had not found bad faith when it came to the Booysen prosecution. He quoted the judgment of Judge Frans Legodi who said: “I cannot find any mala fides and or ulterior motive in the authorisation by Jiba as contemplated in POCA”.

Arendse also referred to where Legodi’s judgment said that Judge Gorven’s criticism of Jiba needed to be seen in context and was the result of legal advice from her senior counsel.

Arendse asked what the point was of Booysen coming before the inquiry at all — “apart from some good theatre before the media” — since everything was still “pending” before the courts. Booysen said he was not here for theatre or the media, but had been invited by the evidence leader.

Evidence leader Nasreen Rajab Budlender later suggested that the Gorven judgment was specifically mentioned in the terms of reference for the Mokgoro inquiry.

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

Earlier on Monday, Booysen described how he had been investigating Durban businessman Thoshan Panday. 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.

He said “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.”

When asked by Rajab-Budlender why he thought he was being prosecuted, Booysen 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 Zuma had asked for a meeting. When they met in his office, 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,” Booysen said.

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”.

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

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