POLITICS

Legal Eagles Tear Into Abrahams Application, Call It 'Abuse' And 'Premature'

It's not looking good for the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law.

24/11/2016 19:49 SAST | Updated 24/11/2016 19:51 SAST
Pieter du Toit
Court 6E in the High Court in Pretoria, where an application to suspend Shaun Abrahams is being heard.

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria has heard the application to suspend Shaun Abrahams and two colleagues are premature and an abuse of court process.

Advocates Ishmael Semenya, Hilton Eckstein, Jaap Cilliers and Dumisa Ntsebeza — all senior counsel — have torn into the application by the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law to have the matter considered urgent. The HSF and FUL want the court to order President Jacob Zuma to immediately suspend Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions, as well as his subordinates, Torie Pretorius and Sibongile Mzinyathi.

Cilliers, for Pretorius, forcefully argued the court is asked to ignore the facts on the table and to deal with questions of perception created by groups such as the media. He told the court it is "simply wrong" to usurp the president's powers and force his hand while he has committed to pay attention to the matter, calling the application startling.

It is "simply wrong" to usurp the president's powers and force his hand while he has committed to pay attention to the matter

He asked the court to reject the application on the basis of urgency and that punitive costs against then applicants be ordered.

Zuma has given Abrahams, Pretorius and Mzinyathi until Monday to provide him with reasons why they should not be suspended. This relates to the charges, later dropped, against Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and two of his colleagues, Oupa Magahsula and Ivan Pillay.

Hilton Epstein, on behalf of Abrahams and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) argued the only motivation behind the application is to "put Abrahams out of business".

Hilton Epstein, on behalf of Abrahams and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) argued the only motivation behind the application is to "put Abrahams out of business".

He said the applicants want to prevent any future charging of Gordhan. "They want to remove the menace of prosecution under the guise of the respondents' 'breathtaking incompetence'."