Joint FUL/HSF media release:
Last night, attorneys acting for Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation served an urgent application to order President Jacob Zuma to suspend Adv Shaun Abrahams, National Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Torie Pretorius SC, Head of the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit and Adv Sibongile Mzinyathi, Director of Public Prosecutions for North Gauteng, pending an enquiry into their fitness to hold office. This power to suspend is granted to President Zuma by sections 12(6)(a) and 14(3) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act.
The National Prosecuting Authority, acting through these three officials, brought obviously baseless criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Mr Ivan Pillay and Mr Oupa Magashula. This undermined respect for our criminal justice system and punched a hole in the economy. After unprecedented public outrage, Adv Abrahams withdrew the charges.
All of this demonstrates that Adv Abrahams and his two colleagues are unfit for office. No competent prosecutor would have brought the charges, or would have defended them for as long as Adv Abrahams did. He should apologise and resign, but he has refused to do so.
Fortunately, the President has the power to suspend such officials. Given their obvious failings, it would be irrational of him not to exercise this power. President Zuma can still decide to do this on his own, and we urge him to do so. The Constitution requires him to act rationally – in this case, in our view to exercise his power to suspend. We are going to court to make sure the President does what the Constitution requires.