Racketeering charges withdrawn against former Hawks head Johan Booysen

NDPP Shamila Batohi.
NDPP Shamila Batohi.

The national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi has withdrawn racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen and others.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) made the announcement on Tuesday after a panel reviewed the findings of former acting NDPPs Nomgcobo Jiba and Shaun Abrahams, which gave the green light for the prosecutions in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

“The panel finalised its review and submitted a report with recommendations to the NDPP. The unanimous conclusion of the panel is that ‘in respect of the authorisations a proper case was not made out on the papers presented’. 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,” NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said.

“As a result, the racketeering charges will be withdrawn against all the accused. As regards the remaining charges, which include murder, housebreaking, theft and defeating the ends of justice, the NDPP will refer the dockets back to the acting DPP KZN, Adv Elaine Zungu, to reassess the evidence in each case, and decide whether to prosecute individuals who may be implicated in those matters ….

"It is important for them to know that the withdrawal of the racketeering charges does not mean that there will be no justice for victims of the crimes.  Where there is sufficient evidence that actions of the police amount to criminal conduct, those responsible will be prosecuted and held accountable.”

Former KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen and 26 other officers‚ some of whom have left the police service‚ were arrested in 2012 on allegations that they had been running a “death squad” which allegedly killed suspects or rivals of taxi operators they were doing business with and planted weapons to frame crime scenes — collecting incentives for good work as a reward.

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.