Former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen’s fate on charges of murder, housebreaking and defeating the ends of justice now lies in the hands of acting provincial director of public prosecutions.
Yesterday, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi announced that she will be dropping racketeering charges against Booysen and his 26 co-accused in the so-called “Cato Manor death squad” case.
Batohi set up a review panel tasked with deciding “what the NPA position will be in the litigation”. The panel found that the authorisation of the charges was invalid. Booysen and his team of 26 police detectives were arrested in 2012 and charged with 116 crimes.
Yesterday, Batohi said she had referred the remaining charges to acting KZN DPP advocate Elaine Zungu, who will decide whether or not there is merit to the charges against Booysen and his cops.
NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said the decision to pursue the remaining charges rested solely in the hands of Zungu. Makeke said that racketeering was the only charge Batohi had authority over.
“This is a KZN case but among all the charges that were put to the accused they added racketeering and for that particular charge only a national director can authorise that [withdrawal].
“So that’s why they had to come to the NDPP. It is the racketeering charges that the national director is withdrawing, everything else – and the statement says that – she’s sending everything back to the DPP again to re-assess all the charges,” said Makeke.
Makeke said Booysen, who led the team of 26 detectives in the squad, was not off the hook and he may still face charges should Zungu see it fit. “He is not excluded in that. It all lies with them [KZN NPA]. They must reassess and if there is sufficient evidence they take the matter forward,” she said.
Testifying before the state capture commission, Booysen claimed former police minister Nathi Mthethwa pressured the prosecutors, including embattled former acting NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba, to bring racketeering charges against him and his co-accused.
Mthethwa denied the claims and said he would have landed in trouble had he ignored the issues around the so-called “Cato Manor death squad”.
“This thing happened and later on will prove that had we folded our arms, we would have been in a situation where we would have been uncomfortable ourselves as the police, particularly myself,” Mthethwa said last year.