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Implicated NPA members drop bid to cross-examine Booysen, McBride at Zondo commission

Eight members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Wednesday withdrew their application to the Zondo commission to cross-examine former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride and former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks general Johan Booysen, who had accused them of pursuing a political agenda.

Instead, counsel for the group, which includes South Gauteng director of public prosecutions Andrew Chauke and North West deputy director of public prosecutions Sello Maema, asked to be given a chance later this month to read into the record affidavits from their clients to counter the testimony regarding McBride and Booysen. 

“It is in the interest of our clients that this commission and South Africa should know what the version of the applicants is, because a clear perusal and analysing of the affidavit clearly demonstrate that their accusers peddled lies and the accusers themselves one way or the other were implicated,” advocate Thebogo Mathibedi said.

He said it would be pointless to cross-examine Booysen and McBride without also cross-examining the Ipid lead investigator, Matthews Sesoko, and Ipid’s lead investigator in Limpopo, Matthews Khuba, because their accounts were “intertwined”. 

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo agreed that a summary of the eight’s affidavits may be read.

Maema and Chauke were part of the NPA team involved in the decision to prosecute Booysen and detectives of the Cato Manor and Port Shepstone organised crime units with 116 charges of racketeering, murder and robbery.

They had applied, along with advocates Anthony Mosing, Torie Pretorius, Molatlhwa Mashuga, George Baloyi and Marshall Mokgatle, to cross-examine Booysen. 

In testimony to the commission two years ago, Booysen said elements in the NPA had “been captured — for reasons of own interest and in other cases to promote or follow a particular agenda”.

He named former acting national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, former national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, Pretorius, Mosing, Maema and former KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Moipone Noko as having furthered the unlawful, malicious prosecution of officials who were combating crime and exposing state capture.

Booysen said the charges against him, McBride and former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat were driven by this same “regime” of state prosecutors, which suggested that they had political orders to disrupt criminal investigations by persecuting the investigators. 

The Cato Manor charges were instituted in 2012 while Booysen was investigating politically-connected businessman Thoshan Panday, who now faces trial for fraud and corruption linked to 2010 Fifa World Cup contracts more than 10 years after the fact.

Booysen said former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and Panday were among those who benefited from political manipulation at the NPA, and suggested the prosecutors he implicated were acting on instructions from Jiba who was, in turn, doing the bidding of then president Jacob Zuma.

The charges against Booysen were withdrawn only seven years later after a panel appointed by the national director of public prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, concluded in mid-2019 that Abrahams, Jiba, Noko and Maema lied and conspired to charge him and his colleagues. 

Jiba had relied on the opinion of Mosing, to the exclusion of others, to authorise the racketeering charges, according to testimony to the Mokgoro inquiry which investigated her fitness to hold office.

Mokgatle, the former head of the NPA’s specialised commercial crime unit, later recommended to Abrahams that Jiba should not face fraud and perjury charges for pursuing the charges.

McBride was charged with fraud for allegedly falsifying a report by Ipid which claimed Hawks officials, including Dramat, were innocent of unlawful rendition. The charges were withdrawn in 2016.

Dramat claimed that the charges against him were political retribution for his bid to have them investigate Zuma over the upgrades to his Nkandla home.

On Thursday, Mathibedi asked that his clients’ version of events also be included in the Zondo commission’s final report.

“That will at least to a certain extent make up for the indignity or the blow to the character that our clients suffered … there is no truth, there is no value in what was said.”

Batohi was reported this month to have asked Chauke to explain some of his decisions, including why Mdluli was eventually not charged with murder in relation to the shooting of a love rival but only with kidnapping and assault.

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