Luthuli House was 'convenient' for Abrahams meeting with Zuma - minister

Shaun Abrahams, national director of the National Prosecuting Authority. (Netwerk24)
Shaun Abrahams, national director of the National Prosecuting Authority. (Netwerk24)

Cape Town – Justice Minister Michael Masutha says Luthuli House was chosen as the location for an emergency meeting with NPA head Shaun Abrahams because it was convenient for President Jacob Zuma at the time.

Masutha on Monday replied to a written question from Cope MP Deidre Carter, who asked him why Luthuli House was chosen for the meeting on October 10.

"It was an emergency meeting called by His Excellency, the Honourable President, who invited ministers of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster," he said.

"The president was leaving the country later that day. The location was most convenient, as most of the members of the executive who attended the meeting were already at the venue for other commitments.

"Due to the urgency of the situation the meeting thus took place at this venue."

Masutha reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was to address the rapidly "degenerating" situation at university campuses during fees protests that week.

A protest at Wits University turned into a riot in the streets of neighbouring Braamfontein later that day.

Gordhan charges not discussed

"It was deemed prudent to return the appropriate state intervention to stabilise the situation as buses were burning, shops were being looted, streets were barricaded, buildings and vehicles were being vandalised and harm was inflicted on persons."

He also repeated that pending fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who would be charged by Abrahams the next day, were not discussed at the meeting.

Zuma had already been informed about the charges beforehand, and it was therefore "not necessary" to discuss it again at the meeting, he said.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said that week that Abrahams had no business visiting the ANC's offices for a meeting as it created perceptions of bias and political interference.

Gordhan was on October 11 charged with two counts of fraud for allegedly authorising an early retirement payout for his then-deputy Ivan Pillay during his tenure as Sars commissioner.

Abrahams withdrew the charges three weeks later after Gordhan's co-accused, Pillay and former Sars official Oupa Magashula, made representations to the National Prosecuting Authority, who concluded that their conduct was not unlawful after all.

Abrahams said the initial decision to prosecute was not his, following widespread criticism of alleged political interference in the case and calls for him to resign.

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