NPA insider tells NDPP panel Abrahams refused to tackle interference

Advocate Andrea Johnson, a prosecutor with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), has revealed to a panel of interviewers how former NPA boss Shaun Abrahams refused to heed a warning that he must deal with the “perception” of the NPA and how it works.

The panel has been tasked with recommending to President Cyril Ramaphosa a new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) to replace Abrahams.

Johnson is the sixth candidate to be interviewed for the position. Interviews began on Wednesday and continued on Thursday morning.

The prosecutor — who has tried high profile cases including those of convicted athlete Oscar Pistorius and corrupt top cop Jackie Selebi — is the deputy director of public prosecutions in Pretoria. She told the panel that while the prosecuting authority had grappled with political interference, she had warned Abrahams to take action when he became prosecutions head.

“When he was appointed I was a coordinator at PCLU (priority crimes litigation unit). He was the senior state advocate [in our office] at the time,” she said.


“He gets appointed, he moves out of our office obviously, and at a stage when I was able to, I asked for a meeting with him. I remember sitting across from him and telling him: ‘I want you to please remember in your chair that perception is half the battle. Do not allow perception about the NPA and how we function to continue. Deal with it head on’,” she said.

“He chose not to listen,” she recalled.

Johnson told the story as she was grilled on political interference in the authority during her tenure as a prosecutor. She was asked why only Selebi was prosecuted, while others were allowed to walk free. She responded to the panel, saying Menzi Simelane — the former NDPP and director general in the department of justice — had interfered in the case, as well as then president Thabo Mbeki.

“We had a president at the time who did not want us to proceed with that prosecution,” she said.

However, Johnson told the panel that while there were concerns over the instability at the authority, the next NDPP would do better than his or her predecessors.

“If I am appointed the national director, who the president is — and I say this respectfully — will not deter from the work I have to do. It will not deter from what the people in the NPA will be requested to do. That is the difference,” she said. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Related stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Marikana murder trial resumes

The eight-year battle for justice played out its next round in the Mahikeng high court this week

Why crooks are shivering in their boots

Ace Magashule’s anxiety has to do with the array of arrests of high-profile people facing fraud and corruption charges

How graft arrests came together

Learning from its failure to turn the Schabir Shaik conviction into one for Jacob Zuma, the state is now building an effective system for catching thieves. Khaya Koko, Sabelo Skiti and Paddy Harper take a look behind the scenes at how law enforcement agencies have started creating consequences for the corrupt

‘Haunted’ VBS executive Truter sentenced to seven years

Phillip Truter, the former chief financial officer of the defunct mutual bank who pleaded guilty to fraud and other charges, will work with authorities on how the alleged heist took place

Richard Calland: South Africa needs a Roosevelt style of leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to hold ‘fireside chats’ and have more power and institutional muscle around him, writes Richard Calland
Advertising

Subscribers only

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday