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Durban - Racketeering charges against suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Maj-Gen Johan Booysen were set aside by the Durban High Court on Wednesday.
Judge Trevor Gorven condemned a decision by former acting National Prosecuting Authority head Nomgcobo Jiba to prosecute Booysen.
In his written ruling he said: “The impugned decisions were arbitrary, offend the principal of legality and, therefore, the rule of law and were unconstitutional.”
The ruling does not affect other charges against Booysen, who was head of the now-disbanded Cato Manor serious and violent crimes unit. He had been charged along with his former unit of running a criminal enterprise.
Members of the unit were expected to stand trial on a range of charges, including 28 murder counts. They allegedly carried out paid hits in the KwaZulu-Natal minibus taxi wars. Jiba said in her court papers that the unit acted like an organised crime organisation.
Booysen was charged with managing and participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. He was accused of two murders, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Gorven said at the time of her decision Jiba did not have any material before her that could “rationally authorise” Booysen's prosecution.
The judge, however, warned that his decision to invalidate the charges did not amount to a finding that Booysen was innocent.
“Setting aside the authorisations and decisions to prosecute also does not mean that fresh authorisations cannot be issued or fresh decisions taken to prosecute if there is a rational basis for these decisions.”
Comment could not immediately be obtained from NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube.