Thanks, but no thanks, Gordhan tells Abrahams

2016-10-18 17:00
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24)

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24)

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Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday told National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams that he would not be taking up his invite to make representations by 17:00.

Instead he invited Abrahams to withdraw the charges against him, in relation to an early retirement payout granted to former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in 2010, and the extension of his contract.

His response to Abrahams was set out in a letter by Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji on Tuesday.

Abrahams had set a deadline on Tuesday for representations by Gordhan, Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza and SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.

His invite came on Monday, despite Gordhan’s public pronouncement last week that he would not be making representations.

Malatji referred to a letter by Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation sent to Abrahams last week, as the basis for why the charges should be withdrawn.

'Baseless charges'

In the letter, the organisations said the conduct in pressing "baseless charges" against Gordhan continued to have devastating consequences for the country and economy.

"The charges, such as they are, are unsustainable in law and fact, and may be actuated by conscious recklessness or ulterior purposes on the part of the National Prosecuting Authority," the letter stated.

Abrahams announced last week that Gordhan, Pillay and former commissioner Oupa Magashula would be charged with fraud.

They are expected to appear in court on November 2.

Pillay and Magashula, through their lawyers, made representations to Abrahams on Monday.

They asked Abrahams to review the decision to prosecute them, as made by Torie Pretorius SC, the acting special director of public prosecutions, in consultation with the director of public prosecutions, North Gauteng, Sibongile Mzinyathi.

Abrahams told Parliament’s justice committee last week that he was not the one who made the decision to prosecute.

No confidence in fair hearing

Sections in the NPA Act and Constitution empowered him to review a decision to prosecute or not, after consulting the relevant director and after taking representations.

These representations could be from the accused, the complainant, and other persons or parties the director considered relevant.

Malatji said on Gordhan’s behalf on Friday: "The main reason for his decision is that he does not have any confidence in the NDPP's ability or willingness to afford him a fair hearing. First, we repeatedly asked the NPA to afford the minister an opportunity to make representations to them before they decided whether to prosecute the minister, but they spurned our requests."

When announcing his decision to charge Gordhan, Abrahams had been clear on his commitment to the prosecution, Malatji said.

"Having now had an opportunity to study the charges against the minister, it is also clear to us that they manifest a resolute and not well-founded determination to prosecute the minister at all costs. Any representations to the NDPP would accordingly be pointless."

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