DA commends NPA for dropping SARS 'rogue unit' charges
JOHANNESBURG - The DA has welcomed the decision by the NPA to withdraw charges against three former senior SARS officials relating to an alleged "rogue unit" in SARS, and urged that those responsible for pushing the charges be held to account.
The DA noted the withdrawal of charges against Ivan Pillay, Andries Janse Van Rensburg, and Johann van Loggerenberg by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi, DA shadow minister of justice and correctional services Glynnis Breytenbach said in a statement.
"Having appointed a panel of senior and expert prosecutors to evaluate the case docket and the available and admissible evidence, according to the correct principles and practices to be applied in all cases by a NPA doing its job diligently, they reached the conclusion that there was no prima facie case to be made against the accused, and therefore no prospect of a successful prosecution," Breytenbach said.
The NDPP, having appraised herself personally of the relevant facts, as she must, agreed with the evaluation and instructed the charges to be withdrawn.
"This is how a prosecuting authority must go about its business. Scrupulously fairly, scrupulously diligently. It is not a game. Shamila Batohi has made not only the correct decision, but a courageous one. It indicates an NPA getting back on the tracks of the rule of law," Breytenbach said.
However, the matter could not end there.
"Each of the accused is a person in their own right. Each held positions of some authority in institutions involved in upholding the law, and the rule of law. Each lost their employment and have been impoverished by the very high costs of litigation, while their (and our) tax rands were used to litigate against them."
Each had suffered irreparable reputational damage and public and private humiliation with the concomitant effects on everyday life and the lives of their families. This at the hands of (some people in) an institution and a system that, when applied diligently, fairly, and with absolute integrity, was meant to protect all South Africans from such abuse. This could not be undone.
"If Ms Batohi is serious about the rule of law and the integrity of the NPA, then we must now also see the most serious consequences being visited upon those senior officials in the NPA who instituted and drove this, and the many other, prosecutions that had no legal basis," Breytenbach said.
Pillay and Van Rensburg were charged with contravening the Regulation of Interception of Communication and Provision of Communication Related Information Act after they were accused of bugging the offices of the former Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) in the NPA.
Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were charged with contravening the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. Essentially, while in the employ of SARS, they gave, or agreed to give, R100,000 to an unnamed individual.
After protracted litigation and communication on the matter between the defence and the NPA, and representations to the NDPP to have the decision to prosecute reviewed, the NDPP appointed a review panel to consider the matter and to provide her with an opinion and recommendations.
Made up of Director of Public Prosecutions Barry Madolo, acting Director of Public Prosecutions Indra Goberdan, and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Adrian Mopp, the panel finally recommended that all charges against the three be dropped.
"After a careful assessment of the evidence and other relevant material, the unanimous conclusion of the panel in respect of all counts is that there are no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution," Batohi said on Friday.
"When instituting or maintaining criminal proceedings, a prosecutor should proceed only when a case is well founded, upon evidence contained in the police case docket reasonably believed to be reliable and admissible, and should not continue such proceedings in the absence of such evidence, that is, if there is no prima facie case," she said.African News Agency