POLITICS

Zuma Refuses To Suspend Shaun Abrahams After Gordhan Fiasco

This after two civil society organisations asked to investigate whether he and two colleagues are fit to hold office.

03/03/2017 17:04 SAST | Updated 03/03/2017 18:07 SAST
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The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss advocate Shaun Abrahams during his appearance before The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in Parliament on November 04, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma has decided not to suspend the prosecutions triumvirate who first accused Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan of fraud, but then embarrassingly dropped the charges.

In a statement on Friday Zuma said he could find no evidence of misconduct or proof that advocates Shaun Abrahams (national director of public prosecutions), Sibongile Mnzinyathi (North Gauteng director of public prosecutions) or Torie Pretorius (acting head of the priority crimes litigation unit) is unfit for their positions.

Zuma was asked by civil society organisations Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Helen Suzman Foundation to suspend the three after the fiasco around the Gordhan charges. Oupa Magashula, former commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars), and Ivan Pillay, deputy Sars commissioner, was also charged.

Earlier they asked the high court in Pretoria to compel Zuma to suspend the three pending an investigation into their fitness for office. Their application was rejected by the court, saying the president has indicated he is "seized" with the matter.

Francis Antonie, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, said he is disappointed with the response from the president, but they and FUL will still pursue the matter and won't rule out further court applications.

"We will request access to the submissions the three prosecutors made to the president to see which arguments they put forward. We will also seek to engage with the president to try and understand his reasoning better. If we are not satisfied we will resume the court process, albeit reluctantly," Antonie told the Huffington Post South Africa.

In a statement the presidency says: "Having considered the submissions received from the three prosecutors and concerns raised by the Helen Suzman Foundation and FUL regarding their conduct, in as far as it relates to the decision to charge and review the charges against Gordhan, Pillay and Magushula, the president could not find substantiation for the claim that Abrahams, Mzinyathi and Pretorius's conduct were actuated by ulterior motive or any other improper motive which would give rise to a charge of misconduct or that they are no longer fit and proper to hold office."

According to the statement Zuma believes he is under no obligation to institute an inquiry into Abrahams, Mzinyathi and Pretorius' fitness to hold office.

"It is the president's well considered view that there is no prima facie evidence pointing to the conduct of three prosecutors, constituting misconduct or lack of fitness and (im)propriety to warrant the invocation of the provisions of section 12(6), read with 14(3) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act," the statement reads.