12 October 2016

South Africa: NPA Head Willing to Review Decision to Prosecute Gordhan, If Asked

Photo: allafrica.com
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, President Jacob Zuma, former public protector Thuli Madonsela and Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams said while he was not the one who made the decision to prosecute Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, he was willing to review any matter if Gordhan or his co-accused asked him to do so.

Abrahams also said more people could be charged.

The NPA's decision to formally charge Gordhan was in the spotlight during a justice committee meeting in Parliament.

Abrahams and his team were presenting their annual report to Parliament's justice committee, when he was hit with questions about the saga.

Abrahams repeatedly told the committee that the decision to prosecute Gordhan was made on the recommendations of prosecutors by the special director who heads the priority crimes investigation unit in consultation with the director of public prosecutions (DPP) of North Gauteng.

"But if I am requested to review the decision of the special director of prosecutions made in consultation with the DPP, I will certainly give effect to the provisions made in section 22 of the NPA Act," he said.

Section 22 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act states that the national director "may review a decision to prosecute or not to prosecute, after consulting the relevant director and after taking representations, within the period specified by the national director, of the accused person, the complainant and any other person or party whom the national director considers to be relevant".

Gordhan was formally summoned by the NPA for fraud, related to the early retirement of Ivan Pillay, the former deputy commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars). Summonses were also served on former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula and Pillay.

Confident in NPA's case

Questioned if more people would be charged for contravening the Public Finance Management Act apart from Gordhan, Abrahams gave a resounding "yes".

He said he would prosecute his own peers if they were found to be contravening the act and had no issues prosecuting others as well.

After the meeting Abrahams further clarified that the Constitution and the NPA Act allowed him to review the decision to prosecute in the event that Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula requested him to.

"I will be pleased to review it if I am asked to do so," he said.

Abrahams said he was extremely confident in the recommendations of the prosecutors that looked into the case.

"Otherwise we would never have taken the matter to court. NPA do not take matters to court if they don't believe there are reasonable prospects of success of prosecution," he said.

He would not be drawn on the details of the case.

Asked if he would make the same decision again given the chance, Abrahams said, "I will always do what is right. I will always prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice. It does not matter if it is the ordinary man on the street or the highest citizen of the country."

Abrahams made it clear that the so-called Sars rogue unit was still under investigation, although he could not give a time frame for the investigation.

"I am very confident the investigators are working tirelessly on this matter," he said.

Source: News24

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