Johan Booysen, the suspended head of the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal was back in the Durban High Court on Friday facing exactly the same charges that were thrown out by the same court in 2014.
Booysen and his defence attorney, Carl van der Merwe, made it immediately clear that they would be challenging the decision to prosecute him and his co-accused on exactly the same charges that were turfed out of the Durban High Court in 2014.
Booysen was officially recharged at the Durban Central police station on Friday morning before joining another 25 suspended police officers in the dock at the Durban High Court.
There were smiles as Booysen shook the hands of his men as he entered the dock under the glare of media cameras.
Booysen’s appearance follows the announcement on Wednesday by the National Prosecuting Authority that the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shaun Abrahams, had issued new certificates authorising the prosecution of Booysen and members of the now disbanded Cato Manor organised crime unit.
Booysen and the 25 men face a host of charges that range from corruption and racketeering through to murder and attempted murder.
Booysen and the men, who were arrested and charged in 2012, have steadfastly denied the charges, in which the State claims that Booysen headed up a criminal enterprise, that included paid hits on members of the taxi industry.
State prosecutor Advocate Raymond Mathenjwa conceded on Friday that there was presently no new evidence, that the list of witnesses remained the same and that the charges were exactly the same as had previously been instituted against Booysen by former acting NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba in August 2012.
Judge Shyam Gyanda postponed the case to April 1 to allow Van der Merwe, who is representing all the men, to bring an application to review the decision by Abrahams to prosecute.
A previous application brought by Booysen, resulted in Durban High Court Judge Trevor Gorven throwing out the charges and condemning Jiba’s decision to prosecute Booysen, saying the charges did not even meet the barest of minimum requirements.
Gorven, handing down his decision in 2014, wrote: “Even accepting the least stringent test for rationality imaginable, the decision of the NDPP [national director of public prosecutions, Jiba] does not pass muster. I can conceive of no test for rationality, however relaxed, which could be satisfied by her explanation. The impugned decisions were arbitrary, offend the principle of legality and, therefore, the rule of law and were unconstitutional.”
Speaking after his brief appearance in the Durban High Court on Friday, Booysen said: “The charges are exactly the same charges I face before. The decision [to reinstitute the charges] was based on the same information.”
Booysen said that he would be challenging Abrahams’ decision to prosecute.
“There is no racketeering by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
Abraham’s decision to charge Booysen follows a recent High Court decision to overturn Booysen’s suspension over allegations by newly appointed national Hawks boss Maj-Gen Berning Ntlemeza that Booysen committed fraud worth R15,000.
Judge Anton van Zyl said in that case that: “There is not even prima facie evidence that such fraud had been committed or, if it had, that the applicant is implicated therein.”
Earlier this year, Van Zyl dismissed Ntlemeza’s application to appeal. Ntlemeza is currently petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal.
All the men are out on R5,000 bail each.
– African News Agency (ANA)