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Vusi Pikoli: Society is in danger when politicians meddle in NPA affairs

Pikoli says confidence in the justice system grows when the decision to prosecute is based on facts.

FILE: Former NPA head Vusi Pikoli. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Vusi Pikoli has cautioned that South African society is in danger when politicians abuse their power by meddling in the affairs of the NPA.

Pikoli insists confidence in the justice system grows when the decision to prosecute is based on facts, rather than political agendas.

He says, "I was carrying out my job as a public servant and we did it without fear or prejudice."

WATCH: Vusi Pikoli reflects on Shaik, Spy Tapes & Nkandla.

Pikoli was removed from his position, allegedly because of a breakdown in his relationship with the then justice minister.

It has since been reported that he was let go as part of a bid, by the then president, to shield former police chief Jackie Selebi.

Pikoli has explained that he was motivated by his commitment to his office.

"I felt that the minister did not have any powers whatsoever to ask me to stop an investigation. The president also does not have those powers."

He maintains the NPA's decision to prosecute should be based on facts, the application of the law and admissible evidence, but not politics.

LISTEN: Vusi Pikoli talks about his career & political scandals in SA

'ZUMA MUST STEP ASIDE'

Pikoli believes the president should vacate his office, following the Constitutional Court judgment on his Nkandla home.

In March, the Constitutional Court found that Zuma failed to uphold and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.

The court also ordered him to pay back some of the R246 million spent on non-security features at his KwaZulu-Natal home.

Pikoli has criticised the presidency and the ANC for their response to the landmark ruling, saying the party's initial response to the judgment left much to be desired.

"As a member of the ANC I was embarrassed because I felt there was a lot of distortion in terms of that judgment."

Both the presidency and ANC Members of Parliament insisted that the court had not stipulated that the president had broken his oath of office.

Pikoli says that was incorrect.

"Any lawyer worth his salt will know that it's just trying to deceive and mislead the public. And an organisation like the ANC, with its history, should take high moral ground and not be seen to deceive the public."

In a surprising move, Zuma later admitted the findings of the Public Protector were binding, saying he was always willing to pay back some of what was spent on Nkandla.

WATCH: Public Protector: ConCourt judgment a victory for SA.

But Pikoli feels these consequences do not match the seriousness of the violation.

"This a very serious matter, a question of our Constitution and democracy. I think the president should be big enough to step aside."

He goes on to say that Zuma should have been tried on corruption charges in 2004.

'ZUMA STILL HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR'

In 2005, Durban-based businessman Schabir Shaik was found guilty of corruption and fraud, for paying the then deputy president more than R1 million to "further their relationship".

Pikoli says his plan to reinstate charges against Zuma were brought to a standstill when he was suspended as head of the NPA.

He remains puzzled by the decision not to have the former deputy president tried alongside Shaik.

"When I had a look at the charge sheet and of the names mentioned there, his (Zuma's) name was quite prominent. There was a clear link. So as you read the charge sheet, you realise someone is missing here, who should be in the dock as well?"

He recalls Zuma's reaction, at the time, to being informed of the charges against him.

"He didn't seem surprised. He took it well. He said that things will come out one day about the actual truth."

Pikoli says the president still has a lot to answer for.

"By the time I left in 2007 when I was suspended, we were already in the process of reinstating the charges and it was felt the charges had to be reinstated. But then I couldn't take it through."

To view EWN 's feature on key moments from the Nkandla saga, click here.

To read Zuma's speech on ConCourt judgment on Nkandla,_ click here._

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