Law society welcomes withdrawal of charges against Gordhan

By Janice Roberts
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) says it welcomes “the rather belated decision” by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shaun Abrahams, to withdraw charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay.

‘The LSSA, however, remains gravely disappointed that a matter of this magnitude and implications was decided clearly without first obtaining all the necessary information and that the charges were instituted in the first place,” it adds in a statement.

“The action of bringing the charges and then dropping them appears to be consistent with the public perception that there is a politically motivated link,’ say LSSA Co-Chairpersons Mvuzo Notyesi and Jan van Rensburg.

‘The LSSA urges Mr Abrahams to consider his position in the light of the severe consequences his actions had on our economy,” they add.

“Furthermore, Mr Abrahams seems oblivious to and unrepentant for the damage – both at home and internationally – caused by the unsubstantiated charge of fraud brought against the country’s sitting Minister of Finance by the country’s prosecution services. Mr Abrahams himself announced the intention to institute charges at a public press conference. It would be fair to assume that the NDPP would have gone out of his way in this matter, but also in all matters – be they high profile or routine matters — to ensure that all relevant information had been reviewed and that criminal intent had been established.

“However, when the charges relate to fraud or theft by a high profile individual such as the Minister of Finance, the NDPP should have made doubly certain of the facts before inflicting the trauma he has on the economy, the image of the country as well as on the public. Mr Abrahams made the public announcement, he should take responsibility for bringing the National Prosecuting Authority, the criminal justice system and the country into disrepute.”

The LSSA also calls on Parliament to initiate an investigation into the actions of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – The Hawks – in this matter as well as in other cases involving high-profile persons.

“Alternatively the President should consider a judicial commission of inquiry into the actions of the Hawks. Failing that, and as it stands, it is doubtful whether the Hawks, as an institution, have the public trust.”

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