NPA boss: I won’t protect anyone
Pretoria - Newly-appointed National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams didn’t mince his words when he pronounced on Tuesday that he was not going to use his position to protect anyone.
None of his predecessors completed their 10-year term at the helm of the NPA, but Abrahams showed confidence that he could be an exception. “I can only aspire to fulfil my term,” he said.
His immediate predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana, parted ways with the prosecuting authority after the presidential commission to look into his fitness to hold office was aborted in May this year.
Abrahams was making his first public appearance since he was appointed to the position by President Jacob Zuma last month.
Asked whether he would protect Zuma, he replied: “I can assure you that I don’t intend to use my position to protect anyone.”
He spoke to an audience of colleagues and journalists at the NPA offices in Silverton.
Abrahams believed that Zuma had shown confidence in him “to administer justice without fear, favour or prejudice”.
“I prosecuted my first case in 1997,” said Abrahams.
He used the opportunity to remind his fellow prosecutors that they need to abide by the prosecutorial ethics. He said they need to be “objective and pay due regard” to the rule of law. He outlined his plans to rebuild the public confidence and fulfil the role to assist the court in seeking the truth.
Abrahams who rose through the ranks of the NPA, attributed his achievement in the legal profession to selfless mentoring.
He expressed a strong opinion against “camps” within the institution. “We are lawyers; officers of the court and not politicians.
“Under my leadership there won’t be a room for abuse of prosecutorial power,” he said. He would also not tolerate ”senior officials” leaking organisational information to the media. “This kind of conduct can’t be condoned; it only puts the NPA into disrepute,” he said.
The NPA has mostly been in the media for the wrong reasons.
“I’ve been briefed with respect to all the issues and I have scheduled a meeting to be briefed on all of them.
“I can assure that I don’t intend to be silent on all these issues.”
He wanted to bring stability to the NPA and to rebuild it into an institution of excellence and choice. “I need each and every one of you to commit to the journey that we will walk together,” he said. “I am a prosecutor and I will remain a prosecutor at heart, a people’s lawyer.”
For the first time, he publicly explained where his nickname, Pikkewyntjie (Penguin), came from. “I started walking when I was eight months old; I was walking somewhat like a penguin and my mother nicknamed me Pikkewyntjie.”
Minister of Justice Michael Masutha commended the 39-year-old Abrahams and said he was looking forward to working hand in hand with him.