Gordhan charges 'bad in law, vacuous and unsustainable'

2016-10-24 21:21
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan (Netwerk24)

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - The criminal charges brought against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are bad in law and vacuous and unsustainable on any basis, the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law said in an affidavit in their application to have the charges set aside.

The organisations on Monday approached the Gauteng High Court for an urgent application after National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams announced last week that Gordhan, former deputy Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay and former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula would be charged with fraud relating to Pillay's early retirement and the extension of his contract.

Helen Suzman Foundation director Francis Antonie in his affidavit on behalf of the applicants said the charges are "incapable of prosecution" and baseless.

The affidavit also questioned the timing of the charges and pointed out that uncertainty surrounding Gordhan's future is resulting in political and economic instability.

"When the charges were announced by [the National Director of Public Prosecutions] on October 11– at a bizarre press conference, reminiscent of a show trial – over R50bn was wiped off the Johannesburg Securities Exchange almost immediately. This highlights the national importance of this matter, which concerns not only the liberty and dignity of an individual, but also the economy of the republic."

Antonie accuses the NPA of having ulterior motives and acting in bad faith.

The charges, investigation and prosecutorial processes against Gordhan are shambolic, Antonie argues.

Charges "obviously without foundation"

"The acts for which Minister Gordhan stands criminally accused are clearly permitted in law; there can be no question of Minister Gordhan having acted unlawfully with the requisite intention to commit fraud.

"Despite these terminal flaws, the notionally independent body of the NPA is apparently proceeding with the prosecution of Minister Gordhan, seemingly sacrificing the national economy and the NPA's independence in the service of an ulterior political motive."

The applicants requested a stay of prosecution and a review of the decision to prosecute.

The organisations had requested further information on the charges from Abrahams, or for the NPA to withdraw the charges voluntarily.

Abrahams did neither despite being given a week's notice, the applicants said.

According to a statement issued by the organisation on Sunday, the charges were "obviously without foundation".

"Relating to the early retirement and subsequent re-employment of Ivan Pillay, a former deputy commissioner of Sars, they are completely invalid, both legally and on any plausible reading of the facts."

The decision to charge revealed "dizzying incompetence" at the NPA and Hawks, it said.

Read more on:    helen suzman foundation  |  npa  |  pravin gor­dhan

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