Abrahams will review Gordhan charges ‘if he asks me to’

2016-10-13 06:41

National director of public prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, says if Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan asks him to review the decision to charge him, he would do so.

This is provided for in the law, said Abrahams.

African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart had asked Abrahams – who was appearing in Parliament yesterday, a day after announcing the charges against Gordhan – whether representations should not have been heard first, before the announcement of the fraud charges.

Abrahams said the decision to prosecute was made on the recommendation of prosecutors – by the special director who heads the priority crimes investigation unit in consultation with the Gauteng director of public Prosecutions.

“The NPA Act enjoins me as the national director to review a matter and to invite representations from the accused or any other affected person, the complainant as well.

“I am more than willing to review any matter if somebody applies to me to review that matter. Now minister Pravin Gordhan can submit representations to me and ask me to review the matter, and I will certainly look into the matter.

“I want to emphasise that I did not make the decision to prosecute minister Pravin Gordhan, Mr Ivan Pillay and Mr Oupa Magashula. But if I am requested to review the decision of the special director of public prosecutions made in consultation with the director of public prosecutions of Pretoria; I will certainly give effect to the provisions of section 179 (5) of the Constitution and section 22 (2) of the NPA Act.”

Abrahams said his team had taken into consideration the issue of public interest in charging Gordhan.

He said South Africa was going to see more prosecutions in respect of the contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

“We certainly are,” he said, responding to DA member of Parliament Glynnis Breytenbach, who had asked about prosecuting officials responsible for contravening the act as pointed out by the Auditor-General in his audit reports.

“I give this committee my assurance that this is not the first or last prosecution in respect of the contravention of the PFMA.

“This committee will be very mindful that a few weeks ago Scopa [the Standing Committee on Public Accounts] expressed a disquiet at the lack of investigations and prosecutions of contraventions of the PFMA.”

Abrahams said the Hawks would have their hands full investigating such matters “because there are many matters across the government that must be investigated in contravention of the PFMA”.

“There must be accountability at all levels,” said Abrahams.

He said he had given an instruction for two NPA matters that contravened the PFMA to be investigated.

“That’s how serious I take it. I am prepared to investigate my own people.

“If there’s evidence to prosecute my own people for contravening the PFMA, so be it.

“I will not shy away from holding my own people accountable, so why must I shy away from holding other people accountable?” he asked.

Abrahams was leading the NPA contingent to account to the justice portfolio committee for the 2015-2016 financial year.

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June 16 2019