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MOMENTS before KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen stepped out, 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 in an interview yesterday, shortly after he was released on R5 000 bail.
With a police career spanning 36 years, the general had just spent a night behind bars, after he was 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 due to be officially served on him and 29 other police officers when they appeared together in the Durban Regional Court for the first time this morning.
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 had motivated the others to do the same.
The State did not oppose bail at yesterday’s hearing.
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 agreed to hand over his state-issued cellphone today.
Meanwhile, two policemen attached to the National Intervention Unit, who were believed to have turned State witness in the case, have denied this and have briefed a lawyer to sue the State for unlawful arrest and detention.
Dumisani Nzama and Vusi Ngondwana were held in June alongside 18 other cops from the disbanded unit.
Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, confirmed yesterday that they were no longer facing any charges.