Editorial

Justice denied


On our letters page a reader complains that we too seldom report the outcomes of our investigations and exposés. Occasionally this might be an omission on our part, but, sadly more often it simply means there has been no outcome to report.

Both business and the government now ignore with impunity challenges to their integrity – e.g. Nedbank  and Standard Bank . Others refuse, or simply ignore,  perfectly reasonable requests for information: Absa Consultants and Rawson Properties. (All are to be found in this issue.)

Information with potentially very serious implications involving a senior tax official was brought to the attention of SARS by a major bank in May. As we went to press four months later he was still at his desk, nothing said, nothing done. Sometimes the battles are endless.

“I like what Minister Gordhan has been saying, that he would ‘rather die than give money to the thieves’,” suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen recently told Noseweek. “My advice to him: Keep on fighting!’”

Booysen was speaking at the launch of his riveting account of the Cato Manor saga: Blood On Their Hands: General Johan Booysen Reveals his Truth. (Noseweek first reported on the Cato Manor story in March 2012.) The book, co-written by investigative journalist Jessica Pitchford, lays out how Booysen has fought to keep his job and to defend himself against racketeering and other charges brought against him by a prosecuting authority intent on disabling his investigations of corrupt but politically well-connected businessmen and policemen. Chief among them were notorious Durban businessman, Thoshan Panday, KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner of police, Mmamonnye Ngobeni and (supposedly) suspended head of police crime intelligence, Richard Mdluli.

Last month (September), the new head of the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, announced that he had now decided to prosecute Panday as well as police procurement officer Navin Madhoe for corruption after all, a move that Booysen describes as “cynical”. “They are doing this because I have challenged Abrahams for authorising my prosecution,” he told Noseweek.

In February, Abrahams had re-instituted charges against Booysen, despite the courts having previously thrown out the same charges. In May, Booysen responded by launching a legal attack of his own on Abrahams in the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

In his papers, Booysen alleged that Abrahams’s decision to reinstate racketeering charges against himself and 17 other policemen was part of a pattern of illegal activity by the NPA “aimed at prosecuting us for crimes we have not committed and with a clearly ulterior purpose”.

“He obviously has to respond. It is no coincidence that he has hurriedly decided to prosecute Panday,” said Booysen.

Four years on and there is no end in sight.

The Tigon/Porritt saga is a perfect example of how white collar criminals manage to avoid prosecution for years. Former Tigon CE Gary Porritt and his business partner, Sue Bennett, have kept their case in the courts for nearly 14 years, by bringing endless intervening court applications.

They face 3,160 charges related, inter alia, to tax fraud and numerous contraventions of exchange control regulations, after encouraging investors to take their money offshore via allegedly dodgy schemes (see noses62;63;65&68), only to it be put to even more dodgy purposes. Porritt was arrested in December 2002 and Bennett in March 2003. Between January 2006 and May 2007 it is alleged they spent R23m in legal fees trying to stall their prosecution.

They finally appeared in the high court on July 27, a year after the court of appeals found their prosecutions could go ahead. What more can we say?

Noseweek journalist Jonathan Erasmus has left for America to take part in a three-week Investigative Journalism programme organised by the US State Department. He is the only South African among the 25 participants from around the globe. The programme is designed to expose the participants to investigative journalism in the United States while examining the challenges this industry is facing, with dwindling resources and shrinking newsrooms.

He will be involved in panel discussions, workshops and discussions with several media support and watchdog organisations such as the International Center for Journalists and the Knight Foundation, meet representatives from the Washington Post and the Miami Herald, visit small town news publications and large broadcast corporations as well as interact with academics and government officials.

The Editor

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