National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.
JOHANNESBURG – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Friday said it noted the judgment by the High Court in Pretoria on Friday, which found a multi-million rand settlement with former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana irregular and set aside the appointment of his successor, Shaun Abrahams.
“We deem it prudent to record that the order is suspended for a period of 60 days. Adv Shaun Abrahams therefore remains in his position as National Director of Public Prosecutions. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the NPA and Adv Abrahams have earlier this afternoon served their notice and application for leave to appeal against the judgment of the full bench of the Gauteng High Court,” the NPA said.
“Adv Abrahams’s appointment brought much needed stability to the NPA and under his stewardship, the NPA achieved its best performance over the last two years since its inception in 1998. In the 2016/2017 performance cycle, the organisation achieved 88 percent of the targets agreed to with Government.
“The stability of the NPA and effective service delivery remain paramount for Adv Abrahams, who remains committed to ensuring that the organisation continues to execute its mandate without fear, favour or prejudice.”
The judgment by a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria on Friday, was especially damning for President Jacob Zuma.
Nxasana was appointed in August 2013 but the very next year faced an inquiry into his fitness to hold office. After first refusing to resign, he left he NPA in June 2015 in exchange for a R17-million golden handshake, which the court on Friday ordered he should be made to repay.
A full bench of the court, led by the court’s judge president Dunstan Mlambo, also found that it would not be just for Nxasana to be reinstated.
Nxasana said he did not approach Zuma, but the president came to him, implying Zuma had lied under oath in an affidavit that the former NDPP had left his post voluntarily and had not been forced to do so.
Mlambo ruled it would not be just to bring Nxasana back and at the same time Abrahams could not stay in office.
Earlier on Friday, Zuma said he would appeal the high court order.
“Whilst the President awaits a full briefing on the judgement, he has been advised that an early assessment displays, with respect, various grounds upon which a successful appeal may be prosecuted,” a statement from his office said.
“Together with judges, who likewise are appointed by the president, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) plays a vital role in the criminal justice system. Minded by the principle of the separation of powers, constitutional legality and the rule of law, the judgement will be appealed.”
Zuma would not be able to appoint a new NDPP, the court ruled. It said he was “conflicted” given the fact that the NPA was deciding whether to reinstate 783 counts of, among others, corruption, racketeering and fraud against the president after the case was withdrawn in 2009.
The court instructed Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, to appoint a new prosecutions boss within the next 60 days.
The case was brought by Corruption Watch and Freedom Under Law.