NPA boss Shamila Batohi has withdrawn racketeering charges against former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen and his 26 co-accused.
The charges against the Cato Manor organised crime unit were authorised by Nomgcobo Jiba and former NPA boss Shaun Abrahams in August 2012 and February 2016 respectively.
The withdrawal of charges by Batohi comes after a review panel – tasked with deciding “what the NPA position will be in the litigation” – found that authorisation of the charges was invalid.
“The unanimous conclusion of the panel is that ‘in respect of the authorisations a proper case was not made out on the papers presented’,” a statement by the NPA read.
“The panel has recommended that the authorisations, of both Adv Jiba and Adv Abrahams, are invalid. After a careful consideration of the report and other relevant material, and a discussion with the panel, the NDPP has decided that the said authorisations are invalid.”
Booysen and his team of 26 police detectives were arrested in 2012 and charged with 116 criminal counts including racketeering, murder and attempted murder.
Testifying before the state capture commission of inquiry, Booysen claimed former police minister Nathi Mthethwa pressured the prosecutors to bring racketeering charges against him and his co-accused.
Mthethwa denied the claims and said that he would have landed in trouble had he ignored the issues that were surfacing around the organised crime unit.
“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.
The NPA said that charges of murder, housebreaking, theft and defeating the ends of justice still stood and would be referred to the acting KZN director of public prosecution advocate Elaine Zungu to “re-assess the evidence in each case, and decide whether to prosecute individuals who may be implicated in those matters”.
The NPA said that the withdrawal of charges does not mean there will not be justice for the victims of the crimes.
“Where there is sufficient evidence that actions of the police amount to criminal conduct, those responsible will be prosecuted,” the statement read.
Former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana told the state capture inquiry last month he believed there was “not a shred of evidence” of racketeering against Booysen.
Jiba brought the charges against Booysen for his alleged involvement in the now-infamous Cato Manor “death squad”. Booysen has since been cleared.