South Africa

House of Cards: Shaun Abrahams directed by ConCourt not to make decisions regarding Zuma prosecution

By Marianne Thamm 18 December 2017

In many ways a Constitutional Court directive issued on Friday that incumbent-not-incumbent head of the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, not take any decisions with regard to the prosecution of President Jacob Zuma, is a dream come true for Abrahams who has, during his tenure as National Director of Public Prosecutions, been generally MIA – missing in action. Of course the sting in the tail is that he can no longer protect the President. By MARIANNE THAMM.

On Thursday the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) requested the Constitutional Court urgently to hear confirmation proceedings on the appointment of a New National Director of Public Prosecutions after a High Court declaration that the termination of the contract of Abrahams’ predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana, is invalid.

CASAC filed the notice on Thursday last week opposing President Zuma’s application to a full bench of the SCA to appeal a high court judgment that the termination of Nxasana’s contract had been invalid.

The high court also set aside the appointment of Abrahams. In that instance the court also ordered that the country’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa should appoint a new NDPP within 60 days.

In an affidavit to the ConCourt last week CASAC set out how the NPA, led by the NDPP, would have to make crucial decisions with regard to the prosecution of Zuma on 18 charges, amounting to 783 counts of fraud and racketeering.

In October this year the SCA confirmed a high court order that the charges against the President which he had managed to delay facing for most of his Presidency had to be reinstated. Abrahams in turn offered Zuma the opportunity to make fresh representations and extended the deadline until the end of January.

On Friday the Chief Justice issued directions that should Abrahams, the NPA and other respondents wish to oppose the matter they had to respond with their answering affidavits by Friday, 19 January 2018.

Should the applicants apprehend that the fourth and seventh respondents (NPA and Abrahams) may take a decision before the outcome of their application in this court, they may, if so advised, seek appropriate relief.”

This, in layperson’s terms, sets out that Abrahams may not make a decision with regard to the prosecution of the President. The directions have, in essence, neutralised Advocate Shaun Abrahams. DM

Photo: Photo: NPA Head Shaun Abrahams (GCIS), President Jacob Zuma (WEF)

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