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NPA not charging Zuma seen as political

23/05/2016. NPA Head Shaun Abrahams briefs the media about his decision to appeal the high court decision to set aside the withdrawal of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Masi Losi

23/05/2016. NPA Head Shaun Abrahams briefs the media about his decision to appeal the high court decision to set aside the withdrawal of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Masi Losi

Published May 24, 2016

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Pretoria - National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams incurred stinging criticism from experts and politicians after he announced his decision to appeal against the ruling setting aside the decision not to charge President Jacob Zuma on corruption charges.

They questioned the independence of the NPA and implied that he bowed to political pressure.

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Abrahams told journalists: “I have given instruction to the State attorney to go ahead with the application for leave to appeal.

“I was not part of the decision to withdraw the charges against Zuma… I have taken legal advice from senior and junior counsel. I will carry out my duties irrespective of who the suspect is without fear or favour.”

The decision by then-NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe in 2009 to drop the charges was based on the fact that prosecutors were right to exercise their prosecutorial discretion, he said.

“These are matters that should be left to the NPA. I’m not a passenger in anyone’s vehicle, and I will not be a passenger in anyone’s vehicle I did not have a discussion with Mpshe.

“I am not prepared to comment on the merit of the case or the factors in the case which led to Mpshe’s decision,” said Abrahams.

However, legal expert, advocate Francois Botes, warned the NPA against being caught in a game to protect Zuma’s political career.

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Botes said the NPA was playing for time and trying to avoid the unavoidable.

“My personal view is that there is no prospect of success in the Supreme Court of Appeal,” he said.

Deputy Judge President of the high court in Pretoria, Aubrey Ledwaba, had found that the decision taken by Mpshe to drop the corruption charges against Zuma was irrational.

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He further ruled that the matter be reviewed.

At the time, Judge Ledwaba said the NPA should consider the charges against Zuma on whether there were merits or not to forge ahead with the prosecution.

Professor Dirk Kotze, of the department of political sciences at Unisa, said the decision to appeal was certainly delaying arguably the most difficult decision for the NPA.

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He said the matter was exceptionally political in nature, and it was impossible to claim that political considerations or pressure is not part of it.

Meanwhile, Abrahams said that the NPA would also not charge Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for his alleged involvement in the establishment of the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service.

Abrahams said that no charges of espionage against Gordhan had been brought to his attention.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the decision was a blatant delaying tactic to shield Zuma from facing the 783 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering levelled against him.

Maimane cast doubt over Abrahams’s independence to proceed with the prosecution.

“The reasons advanced by Abrahams that he was acting in the best interests of prosecutorial independence are a farce,” he said.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the party was not surprised with the decision. He said Cope had serious doubts about Abrahams’s independence and about his being his own man.

“For Abrahams to suggest that the court was wrong to come to the decision it did, and that furthermore, such a decision attacked the separation of powers, is totally absurd,” he said.

Pretoria News

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