Shaun Abrahams 'gravely disappointed' by ConCourt ruling

2018-08-13 13:08
Advocate Shaun Abrahams.  (File, Netwerk24)

Advocate Shaun Abrahams. (File, Netwerk24)

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Shaun Abrahams has expressed disappointment following the Constitutional Court's confirmation on Monday that his appointment as National Prosecution Authority head was unconstitutional and invalid.

"He [Abrahams] was gravely disappointed, but he respects the decision of the apex court in the land," NPA national spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24. 

When delivering his ruling on Monday morning, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said former president Jacob Zuma's decision to terminate Abraham's predecessor Mxolisi Nxasana from the position as the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) was an abuse of power and that the Abrahams was a beneficiary of that abuse.

OVERVIEW: ConCourt rules Abrahams' appointment invalid, Ramaphosa given 90 days to appoint new NPA boss

Thus, the appointment of Abrahams was unconstitutional as well.

The matter came to the Constitutional Court after the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria declared, in December 2017, that Zuma's conduct in the matter was unconstitutional.

READ: The ConCourt's Abrahams judgment: 10 things you need to know

Speaking on the sidelines following the much anticipated ruling, Nxasana said that he was glad that there had never been any allegation that he was not fit and proper to run the office of the NPA.

Nxasana said the last three years, following his axing, had been "very tough", adding that he had not been working since he was fired.

'It has been very tough'

He said he had also given up his practice of 16 years when he went to the NPA. 

"For me, I have to go back to practise [law]. I can tell you it has been very tough. For the whole three years, my life has been hanging, because I didn't know what to do. I am a practitioner by profession, but I couldn't go back full time to [the] profession." 

The Constitutional Court also found that certain sections of the NPA Act were constitutionally invalid.

Parliament has been given 18 months to amend the NPA Act.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was also ordered to appoint a new NDPP within 90 days.

It was revealed in June that Ramaphosa was waiting for the court's judgment on Abrahams before making a decision.

"We are not appointing [a new NDPP], that simply must go to the appointing authority which is the Presidency. The president is the appointing authority," Mfaku said on Monday. 

It was not immediately known who would be acting NDPP pending Ramaphosa's decision.

'Stability and certainty at NPA'

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services chairperson, Mathole Motshekga, said the finding by Madlanga that Abrahams' appointment was unconstitutional and invalid, should bring closure to "a long-drawn-out chapter".

"This has led to uncertainty at the National Prosecuting Authority. The focus should now revert back to stability and certainty at the NPA," Motshekga said. 

Motshekga said he would "do everything in his power" to ensure that the amendment to the NPA Act happened as speedily as possible. 

"We want to ensure a strong and constitutionally sound legislation."

Political parties react

Meanwhile, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said Ramaphosa should stop "evading the inevitable" and should appoint a credible and independent NDPP who would restore the public faith in the integrity of the NPA.

Breytenbach said Parliament should play a central role in the appointment of the new NDPP to prevent political influence over the NPA.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the judgment provided Ramaphosa with the necessary space to move "with speed and urgency to resolve the leadership question at the NPA". 

"What is critical for the ANC is the restoration of the independence, integrity and credibility of this key law enforcement agency. Anything that compromises the independence of the NPA will undermine its credibility and lead to a serious erosion of the rule of law," Mabe said. 

The EFF welcomed the ruling. 

"We call on President Ramaphosa to move with speed to find a credible, independent person with integrity to head the disreputable National Prosecuting Authority. The aim must be to restore its reputation and fight tooth and nail against corruption particularly amongst elite politicians," EFF spokesperson Mbuyseni Ndlozi said. 

The party also welcomed the ruling directing former NDPP head Mxolisi Nxasana to pay back his R17m handshake.

Ndlozi called on Ramaphosa to follow due process in finding Abraham's replacement, and not to impose an ANC deployee on the NPA.  


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