Durban -The former head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Shaun Abrahams, who grew up in Pietermaritzburg when his family moved there in 1984, was dealt a blow by the Constitutional Court ruling, but has the full support of his family.
Though reluctant to speak to the media on Monday, Abrahams’s sister and mother told the Daily News during a brief telephonic interview that they supported him.
Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga ruled that Abrahams’s appointment by former president Jacob Zuma through “the abuse of power”, had been unconstitutional and invalid.
Lynne Boucher, Abrahams’s sister, said she had spoken to her brother on Monday.
“I don’t have any comment on this matter. When I spoke to him, I spoke of the pros and cons of everything. I gave him words of encouragement like anyone would do for their family member,” Boucher said.
Abrahams’s mother, Anne, said: “We don’t make the laws and Shaun was not involved in the selection of who should or should not be appointed to the position in question. I can’t complain about the judgment, but I’ll definitely support him through this.”
Abrahams’s appeal against a High Court ruling was dismissed with costs. The court also ruled constitutionally invalid the termination of Abrahams’s predecessor advocate Mxolisi Nxasana’s contract which led to a more than R17million golden handshake in May 2015, he having taken charge of the prosecuting authority in October 2013.
In February, Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution sought to confirm the constitutional validity of the appeals against the High Court ruling that found that Abrahams’s appointment was illegal.
Other issues they sought to confirm were whether the settlement, Nxasana’s vacation of office and the appointment of Abrahams as head of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) had been constitutionally valid.
Justice Madlanga ruled that Nxasana repay about R10m to the state.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was directed to appoint a new NDPP within 90 days.
Nxasana’s woes started in July 2014, when Zuma told him of his intention to institute an inquiry into his fitness to hold office. Among the issues leading to the inquiry, according to the judgment, was Nxasana’s previous criminal conviction for violent conduct.
Attempts to get comment from Nxasana were unsuccessful, but he told journalists outside the court that he wished his successor all the best.
“I think people at the NPA must take a leaf out of this judgment. They must know that they have been appointed to serve the people of South Africa and not to serve certain individuals,” Nxasana said.
He said he felt that the judge had overlooked the fact that he had left a practice he had built for 16 years to work for the NPA.
The Helen Suzman Foundation, admitted in the matter as the friend of the court, said the judgment upheld the rule of law.
“It brings much-needed stability to the crucial role in the delivery of justice of the NPA and the office of the NDPP.
“Parliament has also been directed to remedy the constitutional defects in the NPA Act within 18 months from the date of the order. The foundation welcomes the judgment and will continue to monitor the implementation of the court’s order as regards the structural independence of the NPA.”