National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams has joined the Hawks in rubbishing reports that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was facing arrest on charges of espionage.
At a press briefing held on Monday (23 May) Abrahams chided media reports, economists and commentators that pushed “speculative” reports that Gordhan’s was facing charges of espionage.
The Sunday Times reported in early May, citing senior officials within the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority, that Gordhan was facing imminent arrest on charges of espionage related to the “rogue” SARS unit.
The paper reported that it received confirmation from Abrahams that a docket on the minister had been handed to them. However, Abrahams later clarified that the docket had been sent back to the Hawks “with guidance”.
The report claimed that the Hawks and the NPA were waiting for “political go-ahead” to move on Gordhan.
Briefing the media on Monday, Abrahams said he was making it “abundantly clear” that the NPA did not need “political go-ahead” from anyone to prosecute someone or to move forward with an investigation or arrest.
“Let me make this emphatically clear: there are no charges of espionage being investigated against minister Gordhan. There are no charges of espionage being investigated against anyone involved with what the media has called the ‘rogue’ SARS unit,” he said.
He went on to day that his department is not obligated to comment on or reveal anything relating to who they are investigating or charging – or what evidence may or may not be involved.
He said, however, that any person who is being investigated in a matter – including minister Gordhan – would be notified they are a suspect ahead of time.
“Prosecution will only happen thereafter,” he said. The power of arrest is within the hands of the SAPS, but any such action coming from the office of the NPA would come with advance warning, Abrahams said.
He added that the investigation into the so-called SARS “rogue unit” was not politically motivated, and no one in the NPA has seen any evidence that would imply that it was.
“The NPA is not filthy, or corrupt like some politicians would want you to believe,” he said.
Abrahams said that, on the one hand, the media, legal experts and politicians were calling for no prosecution against finance minister Pravin Gordhan – but these were the same people who wanted president Jacob Zuma to be prosecuted.
“These are matters that should be left to the NPA,” Abrahams said, adding that it’s unheard of for a department like his to make any decisions based on the whims of outside parties.