Johannesburg - Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head General Johan Booysen has told the Zondo commission that he had been instructed by former KZN provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni to end the investigation into a possibly corrupt procurement deal which involved a Durban businessman.
Booysen took the stand on Wednesday and told the commission that he had been alerted by Brigadier Lawrence Kemp, who was the head of the province's finances, to possible procurement irregularities related to booking of accommodation for South African Police Services (SAPS) officials for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The bookings were made through a company owned by Durban businessman Thoshan Panday.
He said almost all procurement in the province was done through Panday’s companies which raised his suspicions.
He said he decided he would appoint two investigators from his unit to probe the case.
Booysen said around May 2010 he received a call from then provincial police commissioner Ngobeni who asked why he was conducting an investigation into this matter.
Ngobeni then proceeded to instruct Booysen to put an end to the investigation.
“She hardly gave me time to speak and as soon as I tried to explain, she cut me off and she was adamant that the investigation must stop. She did not even ask what the investigation was about and what it involved, she just said it must stop,” said Booysen.
The General said he called his investigators and told them that the investigation had to stop following Ngobeni’s instructions.
Booysen also told the commission about another phone call from Ngobeni late in May 2010 where she shouted at him and asked him why the investigation had not stopped, Booysen said he tried to convince her that he had asked the investigators to stop probing the matter which they did.
The police official said the investigation was later resumed after he had spoken to then Hawks head Anwa Dramat who told him that the investigation had to continue and that the investigators would have to report to directly to Hawks national in order to protect the investigation.
Booysen also told the commission about two meetings which took place in Ngobeni’s office.
He said in one of the meetings he was directed to Ngobeni’s boardroom where a few individuals were waiting.
Some of the people in the meeting included Panday and his attorney Tasha Giwapersad and an Advocate Mkhize who also represented Panday.
Booysen said the meeting was “an ambush” as Ngobeni sat quietly as Panday attacked him asking him why his team had been conducting the investigation and on what grounds.
“I felt very uncomfortable during this meeting because I realised that Panday was one of the main subjects of this investigation we were busy with. It was sort like he was chairing the meeting. He accused the investigators of not having a mandate and were investigating unlawfully. They were on a fishing expedition and I had to try and manoeuvre my way through this meeting,” said Booysen.
The investigating team later learned that Panday and his attorney Giwapersad had been interfering with witnesses and persuading them to change statements.
Booysen said as the investigation progressed, he was told that during the time when Ngobeni had been trying to stop the investigation against Panday, she had been benefited financially from Panday.
Panday had funded the birthday celebration of Ngobeni’s husband, Lucas Ngobeni who is also a police official, in May 2010. The party cost R30 000.
“The figure quoted (for the party) was R30 000, but there were other statements in the investigation which indicated that the party cost R20 000 and when Panday had paid for it with his credit card he asked for a receipt of R30 000,” said Booysen.
The inquiry continues.