Moments before provincial Hawks head Johan Booysen stepped, handcuffed, into the media glare on Wednesday evening, he was asked if he wanted to cover his face with his jacket. He refused.
“I have never covered my face and I never will,” he said yesterday in an interview with The Mercury shortly after being released on bail of R5 000.
With a police career spanning 36 years, the general had just spent a night behind bars after being arrested on a racketeering charge relating to the alleged “death squad” killings of the now-disbanded Cato Manor serious and violent crime unit.
Booysen is listed as accused number one on the indictment detailing more than 100 charges, which was to be officially served on him and 29 other police officers when they appeared together in the Durban Regional Court for the first time yesterday.
He described his night at the Durban North police cells as “degrading and unnecessary”.
“I am a policeman. I have been through the mill. But last night was not pleasant. I didn’t have a sheet so I slept on newspapers,” he said.
Of his arrest, he said he had seen it coming.
“Since December it has been clear to me that I was the main target in this investigation. The reasons for this will come out at the trial.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but the forces at work made it inevitable.
“My conscience is clear and I have done nothing illegal. I am determined to prove this in court.”
He intended going back to his office at police headquarters yesterday to work and, he said, he had motivated the others to do the same.
Unlike in the first swoop in June in which 18 policemen were arrested, the State did not oppose bail at yesterday’s hearing before magistrate Delia Turner.
With Booysen in the dock were Bongani Zondi, Eugene van Tonder, Ernest Nkubane, Nico Crouse, Thomas Dlamuka, Sandile Mfene, Sibongile Sikhulume, Vincent Auerbach, Shane Smith, Asogram Pillay and Mukesh Panday.
It was confirmed that Booysen had handed over his passport to the investigating officer and he agreed to hand over his state-issued cellphone today.