Durban - Police Minister Bheki Cele apparently plans to appoint former Hawks boss Major-General Johan Booysen as his adviser as part of his plans to bolster his crime-fighting strategy and clean up the police force.
While several police sources confirmed it was already cast in stone, Booysen and Cele could not confirm this.
Asked if he would like to make a comeback, Booysen said: “I will always be here to serve my country.”
On Saturday, Cele said the issue of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and police killings were his top priorities.
“But to curb the scourge, the right people must be deployed to crime-fighting agencies,” said Cele.
Cele, who is a senior ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, said he was confident the party would reclaim its glory if capable people were deployed to the government.
“Everybody says the mood is very positive and we need to build on that."
"We need to keep the mood going,” Cele said during a voter registration drive in Durban on Saturday.
Cele and Booysen were known to have shared a close relationship in the past and are still friends.
Cele was also responsible for appointing Booysen as head of the Hawks in 2010, a year after he was appointed as police commissioner.
As the former Hawks boss, Booysen enjoyed Cele’s support when he and 24 members of the Durban Organised Crime Unit were accused of operating a “death squad”.
In June 2012, Booysen and his co-accused were arrested and charged with 116 counts, including racketeering, murder and attempted murder.
They allegedly killed murder suspects and planted weapons to create the impression that the killings were justified. The case has been delayed amid an unresolved legal battle between the National Prosecuting Authority and Booysen. The accused are due to reappear in court in October.
Booysen previously told the media that his unit’s investigations into high-level politically connected people led to their arrests. His case was in court last November and is expected to return to court in October this year.
Last year, Booysen released a tell-all book titled Blood on their Hands: General Johan Booysen Reveals his Truth in which Cele’s name featured prominently.
The book revealed a web behind Booysen’s struggle to keep his job, details about the “Cato Manor death squad” and agendas to capture law enforcement institutions, including the Hawks and police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
In an extract from his book, on first meeting Cele, Booysen said: “‘I had no relationship with him (Cele) to speak of. I’d never even picked up the phone to call him. He hadn’t been on the selection panel for the Hawks job. At that stage, we’d never met alone, ever. Yet ‘sources’ said I was Cele’s right-hand man.’"
On Friday, Booysen said he was pleased that Cele had been appointed as police minister.
At a voter registration drive in Durban on Saturday, Cele said: “KZN is under the spotlight and we hope that we are not going to disappoint the people who have faith in us.”
Taxi violence would also not be tolerated, he warned.
He said his drive was to drop police killings to zero.
“We cannot allow the situation to go on unchallenged. Police officers must fight back when criminals confront them,” he said.
Cele said he was also pursuing the murder case of former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain Senzo Meyiwa, who was shot dead in 2014.
Cele earned the nickname “Skhokho”, which loosely means a champion, for his hard-talk approach during his tenure as MEC for safety and community liaison in KZN.
Cele has repeatedly said he was honoured by the warm reception he has received from South Africans.
“I love my job,” he said.
During his time as a police commissioner, Cele introduced what was known as “chest out, stomach in”, calling for police officers to be fit, to enable them to fight criminals.
“If criminals choose to go toe to toe with us, we will show them who we are,” Cele warned.
He lauded police officers for arresting suspects who were linked to the killing of Captain Dumisani Mhlanzi, who was shot and killed during a robbery in KwaMaphumulo.
“This is what policing is about, reacting swiftly and always being in the front line of defence."