When it came to Edward Zuma’s police troubles, dad ‘copped out’
Ex-Hawks boss tried to speak to Jacob Zuma about his son's allegedly dodgy business partner, but he'd have none of it
Former president Jacob Zuma reportedly “didn’t want to get involved” in allegations that his son, Edward, was entwined with a company that profited from a corrupt relationship with the police in KwaZulu-Natal.
This claim was made during former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen’s testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday.
According to Booysen, he and a friend tried to meet the former president at his Nkandla home, where the ex-provincial Hawks boss wanted to chat about the allegations against Edward.
He told the commission that he was made to wait outside while his friend spoke to Zuma. He was briefed on the conversation when they returned to the car.
“I said to my friend: ‘What happened?’ And he said the president doesn’t want to get involved,” Booysen told the commission.
A second meeting was then arranged, Booysen said. This time, Zuma redirected them to his nephew, Khulubuse.
“Khulubuse said he will speak to Edward to stop his nonsense. He also said the president and Edward weren’t on good terms, because he [Edward] was drinking too much and that Edward had bought a house … and had not invited Zuma to the cultural opening,” Booysen said.
This all stems from Edward’s alleged involvement with a company, Gold Coast Trading, owned by Durban businessman Thoshan Panday. The company allegedly scored up to R60m through irregular contracts via the police’s supply chain management division in the KZN.
Booysen told the commission that he wanted to inform the president of his son’s wrongdoing after Edward tried to pressure him into “unfreezing” about R15m from the police’s coffers that was due to Gold Coast Trading. At the time, the company – and Panday – had formed part of the Hawks’ investigation into corruption.
Edward apparently wanted the money to be released because Panday was withholding his share of the dividends.
The investigation into Panday centres on how he acquired lucrative contracts from the KZN police, including a huge accommodation deal to shelter officers during the 2010 World Cup. It is alleged that Panday inflated prices and pocketed millions from various underhanded deals.
Booysen told the commission that his investigation found that between January and October 2009, Panday’s company was struggling financially. However, between November and December that year, Gold Coast Trading received up to R2m from the police in the province. It would then go on to accumulate about R60m in total from the police in the next few months – R45m which had already been paid, and R15m which was about to be cleared.
The remaining sum was frozen as the investigation took off. It was then, Booysen said, that Edward approached him.
A meeting was scheduled in June 2010 between the two. Also present 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.
“He [Edward] started talking about the R15m which 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,” Booysen said.
He said he asked Edward how much he invested with Panday’s company, and Edward apparently said it was R900,000.
“I said: ‘Let me give you some advice: approach [Panday] and tell him you want your R900,000 back and take your money and walk away and never look back’,” Booysen said on Wednesday.
He continued: “Here you have the son of the state president getting involved in serious corruption issues within the police. I felt it incumbent on myself, rightly or wrongly so, to inform the state president.”
It was then that he tried, unsuccessfully, to meet Zuma in Nkandla.
Booysen’s testimony will continue on Thursday for a brief period and resume when the commission returns after its Easter break.