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The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn crime charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, diverting national protests this week and possibly helping South Africa to avoid a ratings downgrade. NPA boss Shaun Abrahams moved to place the blame for the case being built against Gordhan in the first place on other colleagues at the NPA. The charges are believed to have been spurious and part of a plan by President Jacob Zuma’s faction to oust Gordhan. When news first emerged that Gordhan was set to be prosecuted, the rand plummeted. Abrahams has denied being effectively a puppet on a string for Zuma. Asked whether he will resign as a result of this fiasco in a press conference detailing the withdrawal of charges, he has strenuously said “no”. He has said he does not believe this case is a blunder; instead he says a case was being built against Gordhan in a matter of legal differences of opinion. Nevertheless, he has promised to look at whether someone should face the music over this debacle. Political parties in opposition to the ruling ANC believe Abrahams should be axed. – Jackie Cameron
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn the summons against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, Business Live has reported.
NPA head Shaun Abrahams said he has notified Gordhan, explaining to him that he had decided to “overrule the decision” to prosecute the minister.
In a televised media conference detailing his reasons for withdrawing the charges, Abrahams said he is “satisfied” that Mr Pillay, Mr Magashule and Minister Gordhan did not have the intention to act unlawfully. This followed a letter from the Helen Suzman Foundation explaining the legal issues.
Abrahams said he had decided to “overrule the decision” to prosecute.
He said questioning the competence of investigators, prosecutors and himself was unfair. When asked whether someone’s head should roll, he said he would “certainly look into that”.
“I certainly don’t think this matter was a blunder,” he said. There are “differences over the interpretation of the law”.
"I foresee great difficulty in proving animus" says Shaun Abrahams. That's why you should 'apply your mind' BEFORE announcing charges wena.
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) October 31, 2016
He noted that neither Gordhan, Pillay or Magashula have spent a day in court and that he had applied his mind to the facts and made a decision – with these facts instilling confidence in South Africans that everyone will be treated fairly.
“I review many matters on a regular basis,” he said, pointing out that he had overturned many decisions by prosecutors in the interests of justice and because the evidence has dictated that line of action.
Abrahams said he always strives to “do the best I possibly can to deliver justice to the people of this country”.
“I certainly do not owe anybody an apology. I certainly do not,” he said.
DA calls for Abrahams’ head
By Thulani Gqirana
Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance has called for NPA head Shaun Abrahams’ head, following his decision to drop criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, while the African National Congress has welcomed the decision.
Abrahams on Monday announced the decision to retract the summons, a day before Gordhan and former South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay were due to appear in court.
Abrahams said this was done following representations by both Magashula and Pillay.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Monday said the decision to drop the charges vindicated the party’s position that these charges were indeed manufactured for malicious political purposes and were without merit.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) October 31, 2016
“We maintain that Shaun Abrahams initiated these charges against Pravin Gordhan for narrow political purposes, and now following a lack of evidence and huge public outcry, Abrahams has been forced to make an embarrassing about-turn, leaving him with egg on his face.”
The National Director of Public Prosecutions could not simply say they had made a mistake and withdraw charges, Maimane said.
“The stakes are far too high to be making such unacceptable and irresponsible mistakes. Shaun Abrahams must be held responsible for this unacceptable blunder. Questions remain regarding whether this was in fact malicious prosecution, what the consequences have been on the economy, and lastly, the damage to the reputation of the Minister of Finance.”
Maimane called on President Jacob Zuma to suspend Abrahams with immediate effect.
“Jacob Zuma must now act decisively, failing which we will have no option but to believe that he is behind these malicious political antics.”
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) October 31, 2016
Abrahams told the media on Monday that the decision to prosecute Gordhan had not been made by him, and he had reviewed it when the two parties made submissions.
He did not see the need to resign over the debacle.
“Will I resign? Certainly not, certainly not. I don’t owe anyone an apology,” he said.
In making his decision, he had applied his mind to the law, he said.
“Neither Pillay, Gordhan or Magashule spent a day in court,” he said.
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