Mthethwa interfered in ‘death squad’ case — Booysen

Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa interfered in the decision to prosecute former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen on charges relating to the so-called Cato Manor “death squad” allegations, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Thursday.

Booysen returned to the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Thursday to continue giving his evidence on the alleged capture of the criminal justice cluster.

During his testimony, Booysen accused Mthethwa of interfering in the decision to prosecute him on racketeering charges.

The racketeering charges against Booysen 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.

READ MORE: More damage expected in Sunday Times fake news fallout

Booysen raised an alleged meeting between Mthethwa, the acting police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials. Referring to minutes from the 2012 meeting, Booysen said Mthethwa irregularly intervened in the prosecution.

Earlier in the hearing, Booysen alleged that Mthethwa was behind the move to suspend him in 2012.

Booysen said, though he was suspended by former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, he believes Dramat was under being pressured by Mthethwa. “In my view de facto it was him [Dramat], but you could see that it was someone else. I firmly believe that General Dramat was under pressure to suspend me from then police minister Nathi Mthethwa,” he said.

The meeting was briefly referred to in the Mokgoro inquiry report, whose recommendations were the basis of the removal of deputy national head of prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba and head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU), Lawrence Mrwebi by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The 342-page report, compiled by a panel chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, found that Jiba had “allowed, and in fact enabled, the independence of the NPA to be compromised” in its prosecution of Booysen.

READ IT IN FULL: Unabridged Mokgoro report

The recently-released report was referred to extensively during Thursday’s hearing.

According to the report, the team dealing with the Booysen matter included advocates Anthony Mosing, Sello Maema and Raymond Mathenjwa. They advised Jiba.

The report referred to a 2015 affidavit by Mosing, in which he mentions a 2012 meeting with Mthethwa who allegedly expressed dissatisfaction with the slow progress made in investigating the Cato Manor unit.

Booysen noted that Mosing, Maema and Mathenjwa had been involved in other high-profile matters, including the cases against former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride and Dramat.

McBride implicated the trio in his own testimony before the Zondo commission last month.

He further alleged that Maema and Mathenjwa were part of a core group at the NPA that has been at the forefront of enabling the capture of the criminal justice cluster through the persecution of officials fighting corruption.

On Thursday, Booysen also referred to a “cabal” in the NPA which he said emerged under Jiba.

Jiba has been at the centre of controversy at the NPA “for the better part of a decade”, he said. During her appearance before the Mokgoro Inquiry in February, Jiba denied wrongdoing in her decision to prosecute Booysen.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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