Abrahams caused untold harm to economy - Judge Kriegler

2016-10-31 16:04
Oudregter Johann Kriegler

Oudregter Johann Kriegler

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Pretoria - NPA head Shaun Abrahams was self-righteous instead of apologising for the untold financial harm done to the country on a "bogus case",  said retired Constitutional Court Justice and Freedom Under law chairperson Johann Kriegler.

 “We didn’t need to see Mr Abrahams talk to us for 50 minutes about section this and subsection this of the law, that was all a smoke screen,  - [the] underlying truth is they did not do their homework,  Kriegler told News24.

Abrhams on Monday announced the decision to drop the summons issued against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former South African Revenue (SARS) officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay.  The trio were due to appear in court on Wednesday on charges of fraud.

This related to the early pension pay out to Pillay, approved by Magashula and Gordhan.

Freedom under Law  and the Helen Suzman foundation took the NPA to court demanding the withdrawal of the charges, arguing that they were without merit.

Kriegler says he is disappointed that Abrahams seemed to "not comprehend the enormity of the matter by not apologising to Gordhan,  Pillay and Magashula for calling them "crooks and thieves who stole over a million rand". 

“I was watching him on television with bated breath waiting for him to say just once I am sorry,  we made a mistake, we want to apologise, sorry minister,  sorry Mr Pillay,  sorry Mr Magashula, we went off half cocked - but not a word, “  Kriegler said.

Abrahams refused to apologise or resign for the 11th hour decision to drop charges. 

Strongly suspect Hawks

Kriegler says the competence of the NPA and the Hawks have now come under question after failing to find a key document showing that SARS lawyers had approved the early retirement of Mr Pillay and that 3 000 other civil servants have received an early pension pay out.

Freedom under Law submitted the document which it says was part of the SARS file that included Pillay's request for an early retirement.  

Pillay was given early retirement in 2010  and a pension pay out and later rehired on contract. 

“We could find it easily, why could the investigators at the Hawks with all the might of the state find it?  Is it because they didn’t want to find it?  You can strongly suspect that. I do too.”

Freedom Under Law says it will start talks with the NPA legal team to try and recoup money spent on their legal case.

“Unfortunately once again it will have to be money of tax payers that will be wasted like it was wasted in the whole of this bogus prosecution of descent people.” Kriegler said. 

Both the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law issued a joint statement welcoming the withdrawal of the charges, saying no competent prosecutor would have brought the charges from the start. 

"While the harm to the reputations and personal dignity of three honourable men speaks for itself, the damage to our country, its financial standing and its international image is literally incalculable.  Sadly, Mr Abrahams shows no sign that he or his advisers have any conception of what they have done" the statement said.

Read more on:    treasury  |  npa  |  johann kriegler  |  shaun abrahams  |  justice

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