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Court sets aside decision to suspend Johan Booysen from Hawks

The Hawks have been dealt yet another blow in their attempt to rid the service of KZN head Johan Booysen.

Picture: Saps

DURBAN - The Hawks have been dealt yet another blow in their attempt to rid the service of Kwazulu-Natal boss Johan Booysen, after the High Court in Durban set aside the decision to suspend him.

Hawks head Major General Berning Ntlemeza suspended Booysen in August for allegedly fraudulently obtaining financial reward for policing successes in 2008.

This was the fourth time a police management decision against the KwaZulu-Natal boss has been declared unlawful and invalid after a hearing in September last year found that there was a political plot to rid him from the police.

Booysen is a key witness in the case against politically connected businessman Thoshan Panday, who is linked to President Jacob Zuma's son Edward, and police provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni.

The court has ordered that he may return to work, but he might still face a disciplinary hearing.

While the court set aside the decision to suspend him; it did so pending the outcome of any hearing stemming from the fraud charges he is currently facing.

The court did, however, find that there was not a shred of evidence to support the case against the Hawks boss, and that Ntlemeza supported the case on mere speculation.

It further ruled that even after Booysen made representations to his superior, the Hawks head relied on opinion, unsubstantiated by facts, to dismiss Booysen's claim that there was a vendetta against him.

NTLEMEZA BLINDLY SUPPORTED ACTION AGAINST BOOYSEN

A disciplinary committee chairman ruled last year that there was a plot to rid Booysen from the police.

Judge Anton van Zyl found that Ntlemeza embarked upon action which was simply unsustainable if he had considered the information at his disposal.

He said that when Booysen made detailed submissions to Ntlemeza, he ignored them, and went ahead with the suspension anyway.

Van Zyl found there's a strong suggestion that there's a campaign to unseat Booysen in the Hawks, but he conceded there was insufficient evidence before the court to draw firm conclusions.

The judge ruled that the Hawks head's conduct deserves censure and as a result, ordered that the police pick up the costs of the application.