Following news reports that former head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Shaun Abrahams has been allowed to retire, with benefits, the DA has said it will investigate.
Sources within the NPA confirmed to News24 that Abrahams’ departure was actually processed as a retirement, which comes with certain benefits for him. The Citizen’s research suggests that Abrahams is about 42 years old at this point, making his retirement very early indeed.
“It is unclear if his benefits will be calculated on his last held position,” News24 reported, a point that the DA now wants clarity on.
The Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that then president Jacob Zuma appointed him to the job unconstitutionally in 2015.
Freedom Under Law’s Nicole Fritz told News24 that retirement would end any possible processes within the NPA for Abrahams, “and that is unfortunate because it is a failed opportunity for accountability”.
Lawson Naidoo, of the Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution, reportedly said, “given his conduct as [National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP)], his continued tenure at the NPA would obviously be untenable”.
The DA’s shadow minister of justice, Glynnis Breytenbach, said on Friday that such early retirement made it “manifestly clear that this is a way for Advocate Abrahams to avoid the consequences of the damage he has wrought on the institution of the NPA in the past three years”.
“The DA will therefore probe the rationale for the decision to grant him retirement, as well as the basis on which his benefits will be determined.
“While employed as NDPP, Shaun Abrahams demonstrated that he is a deeply compromised individual with an extremely poor grasp of basic legal principles and that he has no respect for the rule of law. His time at the head of the NPA was marked by political persecutions and a weakening of the institution’s independence, which opened the door for the executive branch of the ANC government to exercise undue influence over prosecutions. He also oversaw an exodus of talented and qualified prosecutors who could no longer serve under his compromised leadership.”
Breytenbach said Abrahams’ retirement benefits should not be those that would be due to a retiring NDPP, but should instead be that attached to the position he was previously appointed, that of a senior state advocate in the Priority Crimes Litigation department, as his appointment as NDPP had been illegal.
“The DA will also question the rationale for Abrahams’ exit from the NPA being processed as a retirement. Ironically, one of the biggest blunders from Abrahams’ ill-fated stint as NDPP was the persecution of Minister Pravin Gordhan and senior SARS officials, Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashule, over the alleged unlawful approval of Gordhan’s early retirement.
“South Africans deserve a criminal justice system that is independent, just, and effective. The NPA under Abrahams was the exact opposite. His exit is a welcome close to an awful chapter. He will not be missed.”