Zuma says he respects Pikoli judgement
President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said he had noted the court order granting an interim interdict in favour of axed prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli.
‘We are looking at the judgement, what will happen at the end of it [the application to be heard in November] I can’t prejudge it,” Zuma told media in Pretoria.
Pikoli on Tuesday morning was granted an interim interdict by the High Court in Pretoria which prevents Zuma from appointing a successor to the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).
This was until the application could be heard by the same court in November.
In written judgement Judge Ben du Plessis said Pikoli, who was axed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, had presented a prima facie case.
‘The applicant has established on a prima facie basis that, if proved finally will entitle him the relief sought —
“The applicant has at least put forward ‘a serious question to be tried’ which is the test for interim relief that has been used when constitutional issues are at stake.”
He said Zuma’s legal team had submitted it was his constitutional duty to appoint an NDPP and an interdict would be an unnecessary breach of the separation of powers.
‘I cannot agree however that interdicting the president from exercising his power would amount to a breach,” said Du Plessis.
Pikoli’s legal team has argued the decision to fire him was unlawful and unconstitutional and therefore Zuma should be interdicted from appointing his successor.
Du Plessis said a new appointment would also ‘severely limit” Pikoli’s chances of getting a remedy.
‘In view of the fact that there will be another NDPP in the post the court will be more inclined to limit the retrospective effect of its declaration of invalidity. The applicant’s rights to be reinstated will also be adversely affected.
‘In my view there is reasonable apprehension that the applicant will suffer irreparable harm if the interdict is not granted,” said Du Plessis.
Speaking outside court, Pikoli’s lawyer Aslam Moosajee said he was “delighted” by the outcome.
“But we have to be mindful of the fact that this is a step in the process.”
He said while he still had to study the written judgement, ultimately Du Plessis had granted the interim interdict because there was a prima facie case that needed to be argued.
“The damages would have [also] ultimately not have benefited Mr Pikoli,” said Moosajee.
Pikoli was offered about R10-million in damages after he was fired, however, he decided to forgo the money and challenge his dismissal in court.
Moosajee said he had notified Pikoli of the outcome and said he had been ‘really relieved”.
Pikoli was not in court as he was visiting his sick father in the Eastern Cape.
In a later statement, the presidency said: ‘The president respects the ruling and will abide by it.”
Zuma will comment further once the presidency has studied the judgement.
“It [the presidency] reiterates President Jacob Zuma’s view that the appointment of a permanent head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is critical to the country’s efforts to tackle crime.”—Sapa.