Johan Booysen tells inquiry he was ordered to drop probe into Thoshan Panday
The former KZN Hawks boss says he was given an unlawful instruction by the former provincial police commissioner
Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen has alleged that Mmamonnye Ngobeni, who previously served as the province's police commissioner, instructed him to drop an investigation into controversial Durban businessperson Thoshan Panday.
Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday, Booysen said it was an “unlawful” instruction.
Panday allegedly paid about R30,000 for a birthday bash for Ngobeni's husband, Maj-Gen Lucas Ngobeni. It has been alleged that Panday, who has links to former president Jacob Zuma, was then favoured by Ngobeni to obtain a police accommodation contract during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. It is alleged that Panday inflated prices and pocketed about R60m.
Former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen gave damning evidence against former police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni and controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday on Wednesday April 17 2019 at the state capture commission in Parktown.
Booysen said he was approached by Brig Lawrence Kemp, the police's provincial head of financial services, who indicated that there appeared to be irregularities with the acquisition of certain services in the police.
“On face value, it was clear there were some irregularities at supply chain management at the provincial level of [the police]. All transactions during the World Cup period had gone through the books of one particular businessman in KwaZulu-Natal, Thoshan Panday,” Booysen said.
The two lead investigators assigned to the case were Hans van Loggerenberg and Vassan Soobramoney.
After the case was assigned, Booysen said he received a call from Ngobeni asking what the investigation was about.
“She told me to stop the investigation. She had the right to give me instructions, but not to tell me to stop an investigation. That, in my view, was an unlawful instruction,” he said.
He said he complied with the instruction but “was never going to stop that investigation”.
He said he received another call from Ngobeni on May 8 2010.
“She was very irritated and she shouted at me. She said to me ‘I told you people to stop this investigation’. I tried to convince her that the investigation had stopped,” Booysen said.
“I suspected certain individuals from supply chain management such as Col Navin Madhoe, who had a close relationship with Ngobeni, got wind of the investigation and alerted her to it.”
Booysen also testified that former president Jacob Zuma's son Edward interfered, albeit unsuccessfully, in the payment of about R15m from the KwaZulu-Natal police coffers to Panday.
The money was frozen as part the investigation.
Booysen alleged that Edward Zuma asked him to “unfreeze” the money so that he could be paid his dividends as Panday's business partner.
Booysen told the commission that his investigation found that between January 2009 and October 2009, Panday's company was struggling financially. However, between November and December that year, it received up to R2m from the KwaZulu-Natal police.
The company would go on to accumulate about R60m in total from the police over the next few months — R45m of which was paid. The remaining R15m was about to be cleared but was frozen as the investigation took off. That's when Booysen said he was approached by Zuma.
Also present at the meeting was Booysen's “friend”, whose name he did not mention in his testimony. From his evidence, it was clear that this friend had a relationship with the Zuma family.
“[Edward Zuma] started talking about the R15m that I had frozen. He asked me if it was possible for me to unfreeze the money. He said to me he is a silent partner with [Panday] and said he is not getting his dividends,” said Booysen.
He said he asked Zuma how much he had invested with Panday's company. Zuma said it was R900,000.
“I said, 'Let me give you some advice: approach [Panday] and tell him you want your R900,000 back ... Take your money and walk away and never look back’,” said Booysen.