National Prosecuting Authority head, Shaun Abrahams has announced that the charges of fraud against finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his co-accused have been dropped with immediate effect.
The announcement confirms weekend reports that Abrahams and the NPA were gearing up to drop the charges this week.
The City Press on Sunday cited sources within both the NPA and Gordhan’s camp, saying that the two groups had been in correspondence, with Abrahams expressing his intent to drop the charges.
However, late on Sunday, the NPA rubbished the report, saying that no such decision had taken place, and that he was still “applying his mind” on the matter.
Before he could make the announcement himself, a letter to Gordhan’s lawyers made its way to the media, confirming that the charges against him, former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula and former deupty Ivan Pillay would be dropped with immediate effect.
Abrahams said that the decision was based on representations made by Pillay and Magashula, after consulting with the relevant NPA directors.
A key motivation to overrule the decision to charge was evidence submitted by the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law, showing that the accused were acting on legal advice from within SARS.
The letters to Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula read as follows:
State vs Oupa Magashula, Ivan Pillay, Pravin Gordhan
Review in terms of section 179(5) of the Constitution
- Your representations dated 17 and 18 october 2016 refer.
- Your client’s aforementioned representations in terms of section 179(5)(d) of the Constitution have been successful. After perusal of the matter, I have decided to overrule the decision to prosecute your client.
- As such, I have directed the summons to be withdrawn with immediate effect. There is therefor no longer any need for your client to appear in court on the charges as listed in the summons.
Adv SK Abrahams
National Director of Public Prosectutions
Date: 31 October 2016
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Abrahams reiterated that it was not his role to initiate prosecutions at the NPA, and that he was not behind this particular prosecution. He said, were that the case, he would not be able to review his own decision to prosecute.