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Abrahams dismisses suggestions spy tapes appeal is a ‘delaying tactic’

Shaun Abrahams says he consulted widely before reaching his decision, but declined to divulge with whom.

National Director of Public Prosecutions of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) advocate Shaun Abrahams.Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Shaun Abrahams has dismissed suggestions that the appeal against the so-called spy tapes ruling is nothing more than a delaying tactic to buy President Jacob Zuma more time.

Abrahams addressed the media at a briefing in Pretoria today where he announced that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would appeal the High Court ruling which set aside the 2009 decision to drop charges against Zuma.

The prosecutions boss was questioned why, if he considers the issues of such constitutional importance, did he not approach the highest court of the land directly.

"We did consider the approach of direct access with the Constitutional Court, but we felt this is a matter of such significance and importance that we must show confidence in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and that's why we have adopted this route."

He says there was never any intent to delay the matter.

"It's the furthest consideration; in fact, it didn't even come into consideration at all."

At the same time, the NPA has advanced six grounds on which it will appeal the court's decision.

Then acting prosecutions boss, Mokotedi Mpshe, withdrew the case against Zuma in 2009 after considering representation which included the so-called spy tapes.

Last month, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that Mpshe's decision was irrational.

The NPA's main argument is that the court's ruling undermines the legally protected discretion afforded to prosecutors to decide whether or not to prosecute on a particular matter.

Advocate Abrahams added that the head of the prosecuting authority would be best placed to determine whether specific conduct constitutes an abuse of process, not the courts.

He says he consulted widely before reaching his decision, but declined to divulge who he consulted with.

"I did not consult Advocate Billy Downer SC, nor any other member of the prosecuting team. I didn't think I needed to do so. I don't have to disclose to any person or to the public which legal counsel or which members in the NPA I consulted with - I think that's absolutely improper."

The Democratic Alliance says it will oppose the appeal.

WATCH: NPA to appeal Zuma spy tapes ruling

Meanwhile, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) says the NPA's decision to appeal the spy tapes matter, is proof that the appointment of a prosecutions head should not be made solely by the president.

Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo says, "Mr Abrahams is now second guessing the North Gauteng High Court, and therefore he is in a difficult place. I think it calls into question the manner of appointment of the national director of public prosecutions; the very fact that that person is solely appointed by the president with no reference to Parliament at all, I think that that's an issue that needs to be revisited."