Cape Town - Justice Minister Michael Masutha confirmed on Monday that he invited NPA head Shaun Abrahams to the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters the day before Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was to be charged with fraud.
Abrahams though was only invited to discuss issues surrounding ongoing protests at the country's universities, he said.
Masutha told reporters on Monday that he didn't feel confident he could provide all the relevant information needed at the meeting regarding arrests, cases and charges during the protests.
"I immediately surmised that my only contribution was likely to be around what is happening at the level of the criminal justice system," he said.
"I thought given the short notice I was given, the fact that I wouldn't be in a position to provide up-to-date information with regards to this issue, I felt the person best placed to provide that information would be from the horse's mouth (sic)."
Masutha admitted that the last thing he had in mind was the potential consequences of, or perceptions created around the NDPP entering Luthuli House.
"The NDPP has permission to enter any building, and to attend any meeting as long as that meeting is not illegal in any way," he said.
"My primary focus was urgency and information that could be provided. It was purely on that basis."
When asked if the issue of charging Gordhan came up during the meeting, Masutha said the matter had already been communicated to him well before that day.
The Sunday Times reported this weekend that Abrahams met President Jacob Zuma and three ministers at the ANC’s headquarters, on Monday, October 10, the day before he announced the decision to charge Gordhan with fraud.
The other two ministers were State Security minister David Mahlobo and Minister of Social Development Bathibile Dlamini.
Abrahams too said the meeting had nothing to do with Gordhan, and was there at Masutha’s request to discuss protests at universities.
Constitutional law expert Pierre De Vos argued on Twitter on Monday that Abrahams had no business visiting the ANC’s offices for a meeting, as it created perceptions of bias and political interference.
De Vos tweeted that the National Director of Public Prosecutions should be independent and not holding discussions about political issues, including student protests, with the president or any minister.
“Abrahams had no business being at that meeting, either to discuss student protests or to discuss the charging of Gordhan,” he said.
De Vos raised concerns that Abrahams did not deny discussing the charging of Gordhan at the meeting. This was despite comment from NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku, who told the Sunday Times that Gordhan was not the subject of the meeting.
“You can discuss something at a meeting, even when that is not the subject of the meeting,” said De Vos.