Zuma slams 'premature' court bid to have Shaun Abrahams suspended

Jacob Zuma has demanded that his authority be respected. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Jacob Zuma has demanded that his authority be respected. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

President Zuma has slammed a court bid to have national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams dismissed, saying that it is an “abuse of court process”.

“The launching of this urgent application, well knowing that I am in the process of considering exercising my power in terms of section 12 of the NPA Act, is an abuse of court process and is at best for the applicants premature,” Zuma said.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Zuma had sent a letter to Abrahams requesting him to provide reasons as to why he should not be suspended pending an inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

Zuma made his latest statements in an affidavit that was filed in response to an urgent application for Abrahams’ suspension. The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law, two civil society organisations, filed the application earlier in November after they said the National Prosecuting Authority had brought “baseless criminal charges” against finance minister Pravin Gordhan and former senior Sars officials Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula.

Despite suggesting earlier in the week that there would be an inquiry into Abrahams’s fitness to hold office, Zuma said in his affidavit that no decision has been taken regarding the inquiry.

“It is untrue that the decision to suspend or to hold an enquiry is a foregone conclusion as alleged by the applicants. The decision is not a foregone conclusion as all relevant facts and circumstances should be taken into account,” Zuma said.

He added that the facts of the matter have not been presented to either him or the courts.
Although Zuma has yet to make a decision on Abrahams’s fate, he said that, as the presidency had begun the process of reviewing the matter, the courts should dismiss the case.

“The honourable court should show its displeasure against the applicants and dismiss the application with costs,” Zuma said.

The president also said that the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law’s court bid was an attempt to usurp his power and invite the “court to run the country through the courts”.

There have been widespread calls for Abrahams to step down. This latest application is just one example of the pressure civil society has attempted to exert following the NPA’s decision to charge Gordhan and then withdraw the case based on a lack of evidence.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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