The leader of the HAWKS in KwaZulu-Natal confirmed on Monday that he has been placed on special leave with immediate effect by the National Commissioner of Police, Riah Phiyega. In his statement, Johan Booysens confirmed that he had met with the national police commissioner on Thursday even though he would not elaborate on the finer details of the discussion.
According to media reports, Booysens was accused in August, 2012, of taking payments to take hits in the notorious KwaZulu Natal taxi wars. This led to his suspension and when he was exonerated of these allegations earlier this year, he was further accused of failing to take action against members of the Cato Manor serious and violent crimes unit for their alleged excessive use of force. This led to his further investigation and advocate Nazeem Cassim, SC, was hired by the commissioner to conduct the internal police disciplinary action against the then suspended Booysen. After extensive investigations, the Cassim commission had cleared Booysens of all accusations, “and insisted he be allowed back to work”. This did not go down well with the police commissioner who quickly ordered that Booysens be placed on a further one month special leave while the top brass in the South African Police Services were in the process of sending the case to the Johannesburg Labour Court. According to Johan Booysens’ legal representative, Carl van der Merwe, they had every intention of opposing the appeal.
Responding to the news of Booysens’ further suspension, the opposition, Democratic Alliance, called on President Zuma to intervene and stop the commissioner of Police from going on with the “state-funded” witch hunt. MP Dianne Kohler Barnard called on Zuma to expand the terms of reference of the commission that he had set up to include a probe into the the treatment of Booysens. They said that she was wasting millions of tax payer’s money in the pointless probe when the leader of the hawks had been cleared of any wrong doing by the Cassim investigation. According to Cassim”s report, Booysens was found to be the victim of a concerted effort to get rid of him. When contacted for comment on the case, the national police commissioner’s spokesperson, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale said her office would not comment on the matter for the time being but would only do so after the review had been resolved by the labour court.