Zuma must be ordered to act against Abrahams – Judge Kriegler

Johannesburg – Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) say they hope the North Gauteng High Court rules in their favour and forces President Jacob Zuma to suspend head of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams with immediate effect.

Speaking to News24 ahead of the matter being heard before the court, FUL chairperson Judge Johann Kriegler said the organisations were hoping to emerge victorious in Thursday's proceedings.

"We wanted Zuma to be ordered to take immediate action," said Kriegler.

The two organisations had previously written to the president urging him to suspend Abrahams and advocates Torie Pretorius and Sibongile Mzinyathi. They also wanted the president to institute an inquiry into the three's fitness to hold office. This is in connection with their handling of charges brought by the NPA against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

FUL and HSF have been critical of Abrahams in his handling of what they termed baseless criminal charges against Gordhan and former South African Revenue Service officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay.

Abrahams has shown that he lacks the required conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office of National Director of Public Prosecutions, they said in November.

President's motive

The charge Gordhan and the others faced was in relation to an early retirement package he signed off on for Pillay.

"It's not enough that he has written to Abrahams even if it was genuine, which we don't know if it is," said Kriegler.

The judge said the organisations were unsure about the motive behind the president's actions. This after Zuma indicated that he had requested written submissions from Abrahams as to why he should not suspend him and the two other NPA officials.

In the president's papers he questioned the urgency of the application brought forward by the civil organisations, saying it was best for them to wait on his decision before deciding on a course of action to take in the matter.

Kriegler insists the president has failed to do his job in accordance with what the Constitution requires him to do but is arguing that he has done otherwise. The judge believes the courts will be able to provide more clarity on what the president should do regarding Abrahams.

Abrahams told journalists at a media briefing in October he would not step down, insisting he had acted independently and with no political interference.

Civic group Transform RSA has also applied to the High Court to join in the matter as a friend of the court.

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