Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
3 Nov 2016
6:25 am

Abrahams to face grilling from parly over dropped Gordhan charges

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the charges were politically motivated, but Abrahams backtracked because they threatened his career.

National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams during a press briefing in Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Amid calls for his axing, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams will have to answer to parliament tomorrow on his decision to drop fraud charges against Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan.

The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services yesterday summoned Abrahams to a parliamentary briefing to explain why the charges were dropped.

Meanwhile, legal justice group Freedom Under Law has written a letter to President Jacob Zuma asking him to probe Abrahams’ fitness to hold office.

Speaking on behalf of Freedom Under Law (FUL), retired Constitutional Court Justice Johann Kriegler said yesterday Zuma must probe Abrahams’ fitness to hold office after his controversial decision to drop the fraud charges against Gordhan.

“We don’t think his explanation was adequate and that’s why we have written to the president in the hope he will suspend him and have an inquiry to see if he is a fit and proper person to hold such an important position,” Kriegler said.

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Gordhan was charged and summonsed to court last month together with former SA Revenue Service commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay on charges related to the R1.1 million early retirement package which Pillay received before he was rehired.

Charges against Gordhan and two former executives were dropped on Tuesday after Abrahams overruled the initial fraud charges instituted against Gordhan. Kriegler said parliament demanding answers from Abrahams would be in the public interest.

“In terms of the law there is nothing wrong with parliament saying we want to know because it is a matter of public interest. We want the head of public prosecutions to explain what seems to be a fiasco.

I wouldn’t want to be Mr Abrahams.”

A joint letter to Zuma by FUL and the Helen Suzman Foundation castigates Abrahams for his contradictory statements, one expressing confidence that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had a strong case against the accused and, weeks later, an attempt to justify why the charges had to be dropped.

“Mr Abrahams was forced, in effect, to admit that the NPA never had sufficient evidence to press charges,” the letter reads.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the charges were politically motivated, but Abrahams backtracked because they threatened his career.

“He is a lawyer and he is aware he had a political mandate that might not work because he could be hauled before the Bar Council. If you pursue frivolous charges, you might be disciplined for it.”