Ramaphosa drops NPA bombshell in Constitutional Court

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has withdrawn the president’s appeal against a judgment of the North Gauteng High Court that NPA boss Shaun Abrahams should vacate his position.

This is the clearest indication yet that Ramaphosa plans to fire Abrahams and appoint a new head of the prosecuting authority.

Former president Jacob Zuma previously appealed the ruling by a full Bench of judges of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that found he was conflicted to appoint the National Director of Public Prosecutions. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. Abrahams is still appealing the matter.

READ: Shaun Abrahams fights to keep his job - NPA confirms

In a letter delivered to the registrar of the Constitutional Court on Friday afternoon, the state attorney informed the court of Ramaphosa’s decision.

"With the current regime change and after consultation with the current President of the Republic of South Africa, we are instructed to inform this court, that the first respondent (Ramaphosa) is no longer prosecuting its appeal and therefore will not be present to argue the matter on 28 February 2018.

"To the extent that the former President (Zuma) may want to pursue argument on matters affecting him personally, he may do so through his legal representatives," the letter reads.

READ: 'Conflicted' Zuma stripped of his powers to appoint NPA boss

It is unclear whether the state will continue to fund Zuma’s legal representation if he chooses to make personal representations. 

Freedom Under Law, Corruption Watch and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution went to court seeking an order declaring the removal of former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Mxolisi Nxasana Nxasana invalid.

Nxasana accepted a golden handshake from Zuma worth R17.3m and left the NPA in 2015.

On December 8, 2017, the High Court ruled that Abrahams must vacate his seat.

The court further ruled that it would not be just for Nxasana to be reinstated.

The ruling stated that Ramaphosa, as deputy president, must appoint a new NDPP.

READ: Ramaphosa must appoint new NPA head as court rules Abrahams must vacate office

In the order by high court Judge president Dunstan Mlambo at the time, it was found that Nxasana's settlement agreement was invalid because Nxasana did not request to be allowed to vacate the office of the NDPP as required by the NPA Act.

Rather, "he was persuaded to vacate the office by the unlawful payment of an amount of money substantially greater than that permitted by law".

The court did also not believe it was just and equitable for Abrahams to remain "untouched" in the office, as this would have led to what Zuma "wished to attain all along" through unlawful means.

Vacating his seat would be a result that "underscores the imperative of non-interference in the independence of the NPA and its National Director".

The court also found that Abrahams had associated himself on all material issues with the position of Zuma, which was "inconsistent with the imperative of prosecutorial independence".

On Friday, it emerged in court papers that the NPA was arguing that Abrahams was validly appointed.

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