National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams announced on Monday that the fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former Sars senior officials, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, have been withdrawn.
NDPP Shaun Abrahams letter to lawyers confirming charges withdrawn against Pillay, Magashula and Gordhan. pic.twitter.com/Comr0qrpmW
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) October 31, 2016
Before Abrahams made the official announcement, Gordhan’s lawyers confirmed that they were notified that the charges had been withdrawn. In his statement, Abrahams said that he had heard representations from Pillay and Magashula, but Gordhan had declined. The representations were part of the process to review the decision to charge the three of fraud in relation to Pillay’s retirement payout and reinstatement at Sars.
“They did not have the requisite intention to act unlawfully. I have decided to overrule the decision to prosecute Mr Magashule, Mr Pillay and Mr Gordhan. I direct the summonses to be withdrawn with immediate effect,” Abrahams said.
Abrahams said that decisions to prosecute are taken at various levels, and he had no power to intervene when the decision was taken.
“My powers only come into play when I have to review the decision in terms of Section 179 subsection 5d of the Constitution,” Abrahams said.
— Phillip de Wet (@phillipdewet) October 31, 2016
Civil society organisations and senior political figures in the ANC and opposition parties have criticised the NPA for the decision to prosecute Gordhan. Various rallies and marches had been organised in solidarity with Gordhan to take place at the time of his court date on Wednesday.
When the charges were first announced, the rand fell dramatically, but on Monday national treasury announced that, following the withdrawal of the charges against Gordhan, the rand had strengthened.