/ 10 March 2018

Abrahams ready to announce his decision on Zuma charges

NPA boss Shaun Abrahams.
NPA boss Shaun Abrahams.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams says he is ready to announce his decision on whether former president Jacob Zuma will be prosecuted.

“At the outset, I must emphasise that I stand ready and willing to announce my decision,” Abrahams said in his answering affidavit filed in the Constitutional Court on Friday.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) filed an urgent application to interdict Abrahams from announcing whether Zuma will be prosecuted, pending a Constitutional Court ruling on an appeal in the case.

The possible charges against Zuma include fraud, corruption and racketeering.

“I take strong exception to any suggestion that I lack the requisite independence,” he argued.

“I view any attempt to restrain the decision making powers vested in my office by the Constitution and the legislation thereunder as itself a serious threat to the institutional independence of the National Prosecuting Authority.

He said if it was Casac’s concern that the decision regarding Zuma would be announced before the handing down of the judgement in the same court in the main application, they should have immediately sought an interdict instead of soliciting and accepting the two weeks notice period.

In its papers filed with the ConCourt, the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution’s executive secretary, Lawson Naidoo, argues that, if Abrahams takes a decision on the prosecution of Zuma, “there will be reasonable perception that his decision was biased”.

He adds that Casac had repeatedly asked Abrahams to postpone the announcement, and he had refused.

“He has only given an undertaking that he will afford Casac two weeks notice before he announces a decision.”

Abrahams gave Casac notice on February 26 – two days before the ConCourt heard the matter.

“Mr Abrahams has informed the applicants that his undertaking not to take a decision expires on 15 March 2018.

“Accordingly, this application is brought urgently and Casac asks that this court deals with it before 15 March 2018.”

But Abrahams said Casac never responded to the letter in February.

“Casac fails to appreciate that given the highly charged nature of the matter, there is of course a risk that there will be a perception of bias irrespective of who is it that ultimately makes a decision,” Abrahams said.

He said if President Cyril Ramaphosa appoints a new NDPP, who decided to proceed with the charges, “a significant sector of the public will doubtless suspect that the new President has designated my successor with the view to settling political scores..”

On December 15, North Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled that Abrahams’ appointment was questionable.

The court gave then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa two months to appoint a new head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after it declared the post vacant.

Zuma and the NPA appealed the ruling. However, following his election as president of the country, Ramaphosa withdrew the president’s appeal.

The matter was heard in the Constitutional Court on February 28. Judgement was reserved. – News24