The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) welcomes the announcement by the National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP), Mr Shaun Abrahams, to withdraw the fraud charges against Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. The announcement comes amid great public outcry regarding the legitimacy of the charges, with many claiming that the charges were politically motivated. There were also reports of incomplete and inadequate investigations and lest we forget the weakening of the Rand/Dollar exchange rate when the news that charges had been put against the Finance Minister were reported.
No matter which way one looks at it, there is the inescapable conclusion that the NDPP has been found wanting, if one was to put it mildly. Whether the prosecution was premature, malicious or politically motivated the nett result is that the NDPP did not apply his mind properly to this matter. If he (Abrahams) disputes such a conclusion then one will have to ask what then persuaded him to drop the charges, could it perhaps have been public pressure? If the latter is correct, it then casts more doubt into his fitness to hold office as it would then mean that he succumbed to public pressure and did not act independently, without fear or favour.
The NDPP’s failure to take responsibility for the decision to charge Mr. Gordhan is a further insult to the people of South Africa, especially in light of the fact that he is the head of the NPA and the very person who made the announcement of charges being brought against the Minister. Mr. Abrahams has failed to execute his constitutional duties as the NDPP. His actions have consequently brought the NPA into disrepute.
The NPA is one of the foundational pillars of Democracy and the rule of law. It is therefore vital for the ordinary man to have confidence in the criminal justice system. The public must be assured that firstly, those responsible for public prosecutions are acting in the utmost good faith, without fear, favour or prejudice and secondly that they have the necessary high level skills to execute their functions property. There are so many resultant negative consequences from this matter that one cannot fathom how the NDPP would now command respect of the country. We therefore urge the NDPP to resign from office.
The Hawks have also not gone by without the strong suspicion of being used to fight political battles. The less said about the conduct of the Hawks in its investigation of this matter more especially of their actions in the full glare of security cameras and cell phone videos the better. One cringes to think how they conduct their investigations in the still of the night or in victim’s houses were there are no cameras to witness them. We also cannot forget the controversy surrounding the appointment of the head of the Hawks.
We call upon the state to, now more than ever, take drastic steps to strengthen democratic institutions such as the NPA and the Hawks, to ensure their proper functioning and independence and to restore public confidence in the Criminal Justice System. We call for a judicial commission of enquiry to be established to investigate the operations of the Hawks and whether this institution is in fact being used to fight political battles.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA.
By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910