Former KwaZulu Natal Head of Hawks, General Johan Booysen. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Pretoria - National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shamila Batohi has decided to withdraw the racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head General Johan Booysen and others, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.

"The former acting NDPP, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba and the former NDPP, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, on 17 August 2012 and 16 February 2016 respectively, authorised prosecutions of racketeering offences, in terms of Section 2(4) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). General Booysen and the other accused brought high court applications, including against the National Prosecuting Authority, to have these authorisations set aside," said NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke.

"In the circumstances, the NDPP [Batohi] needed to decide what the NPA's position will be in the litigation. This required that she satisfy herself as to the validity of the authorisations. To this end, the NDPP appointed a panel to review the authorisations, and to provide her with an opinion and recommendations."

The panel comprised two directors of public prosecutions - Advocate Rodney de Kock and Advocate Ivy Thenga. Other members of the panel included deputy director  of public prosecutions Advocate Shareen Riley and senior State Advocate Elijah Mamabolo. The latter two are part of the organised crime component of the NPA, with particular expertise in racketeering prosecutions.

"The panel finalised its review and submitted a report with recommendations to the NDPP. The unanimous conclusion of the panel is that 'in respect of the authorisations a proper case was not made out on the papers presented'. The panel has recommended that the authorisations, of both Adv Jiba and Adv Abrahams, are invalid," said Makeke.

"After a careful consideration of the report and other relevant material, and a discussion with the panel, the NDPP has decided that the said authorisations are invalid. As a result, the racketeering charges will be withdrawn against all the accused. As regards the remaining charges, which include murder, housebreaking, theft and defeating the ends of justice, the NDPP will refer the dockets back to the Acting DPP KZN, Advocate Elaine Zungu, to re-assess the evidence in each case, and decide whether to prosecute individuals who may be implicated in those matters."

Makeke said Zungu will contact the next of kin of the deceased persons in the murder cases, and explain the implications of Batohi's decision. 

"It is important for them to know that the withdrawal of the racketeering charges does not mean that there will be no justice for victims of the crimes. Where there is sufficient evidence that actions of the police amount to criminal conduct, those responsible will be prosecuted and held accountable," said Makeke.

Booysen, who retired from the South African Police Service in February 2018, and 27 other detectives in his unit were accused of running the "Cato Manor death squad".

It is alleged Booysen’s unit killed suspects to claim recognition awards from the SA Police Services.

According to an 88-page indictment presented in a Durban Regional Court the policemen’s alleged illegal acts “constitute a pattern of racketeering activities”. The indictment alleged that “unlawful activities of the enterprise” began from May 2008 to September 2011 through a pattern of racketeering activities.

African News Agency/ANA