National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams has criticised the decision by Afrikaner interest group AfriForum to publicly announce it intends to privately prosecute Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.
Abrahams was in Parliament on Tuesday to deliver the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) annual performance plan and budget proposal for the next year.
The NPA head also addressed some “recent issues” in the media, including AfriForum’s announcement last week that it intended to prosecute Malema for an old matter, relating to a contract with On-Point Engineering.
“It was opportunistic of this NGO to go public. In fact, even before this NGO had gone public on this matter, I was expecting that the NPA may be ready to announce a decision,” he told MPs.
“So I was surprised when this NGO announced they were ready for prosecution. It was unbecoming, to say the least.”
Abrahams explained that a request for a nolle prosequi certificate (which is necessary for a private prosecution) was received from AfriForum, and added that his office was aware of it.
However, he had not provided his signature and had assigned Malema’s case to a new team of prosecutors who continued to interview witnesses, he said.
AfriForum had written to the NPA and then “opportunistically ran to the media”, he charged.
“I have been advised that this matter is presently under consideration and at a very advanced stage. It is not under review by any prosecutor, as the public has been made to believe.”
The only time a nolle prosequi certificate can be granted is if the NPA declines to prosecute, he continued.
“Anyone that announces a private prosecution prior to the process being concluded, is grandstanding and misinforming the public.”
Abrahams said he felt the initial decision to strike the matter from the court roll was a mistake, but said the NPA continued with the process nonetheless.
The case against Malema was struck from the court roll in 2015 after one of Malema’s co-accused fell ill and the case dragged on.
Malema initially faced charges in relation to a R52-million contract awarded to On-Point Engineering.
The State previously alleged that Malema substantially benefited, through a family trust, from the tender payment to On-Point.
AfriForum explains rationale
AfriForum prosecutor Gerrie Nel last week explained why AfriForum decided to pursue the case, News24 reported.
He explained that, after the Hawks investigated the charge and “found proof of corruption”, the NPA started the prosecution of Malema.
“However, on August 4, 2015, the case against Malema was struck from the roll of the Limpopo High Court in Polokwane after one of Malema’s co-accused could not attend the hearing due to illness.
“The NPA neglected to place the case on the roll again during the two years and eight months that have since passed.”
AfriForum sent its request to the NPA in March this year. The NPA responded to say the reinstatement of the charges was currently being considered and a final decision would be taken in August.
Based on that response, Nel said AfriForum would privately prosecute Malema should the NPA decide to not reinstate the case.
Nel added that it was unacceptable that the NPA, after more than 30 months, had failed to take the corruption case against Malema any further. – News24