Lobby groups file papers against Abrahams over Gordhan charges

Freedom Under Law and Helen Suzman Foundation had given Shaun Abrahams notice to withdraw the charges.

FILE: NPA head Shaun Abrahams. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation have served an urgent application to have recent criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan set aside.

This comes after the lobby groups invited the national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to furnish them with more information about the charges or to withdraw them voluntarily.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced fraud charges against Gordhan in relation to the early retirement and subsequent re-employment of former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

The minister is expected to appear in court next week.

The foundation's Francis Antonie says Abrahams has failed to furnish them with information or withdraw the charges despite being given a week's notice.

"The papers are in the names of both the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law and they are being served to the NPA, specifically the head of the NPA Mr Shaun Abrahams."

ANC CHIEF WHIP BACKS GORDHAN

The Congress of the People (Cope) has applauded African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Jackson Mthembu for speaking out against the use of state organs to settle political scores, saying he has had the courage to stand up to the truth.

Mthembu has proposed the party's national executive committee should resign for failing Gordhan.

He also says he is deeply hurt to witness President Jacob Zuma using instruments of state to pursue his own minister.

Mthembu has publicly defended Gordhan in the matter, describing him as an honest man.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloom said, "We want to applaud Mthembu for having the courage to stand up for the truth and we know that this is an expression from many of the NEC members and ANC caucus members in Parliament."

The ANC chief whip says Gordhan is being pursued in a manner that's both anti-democracy and anti-ANC and adds he'll oppose this along with others.

Several of the ANC's senior members including Ahmed Kathrada have pledged their support for the finance minister, with business leaders and civil society doing the same, while the ANC Women's League has said Gordhan must have his day in court.

Mthembu has also warned that unless the ruling party does things differently it will not be in power after the 2019 general election.

NPA head Shaun Abrahams has dismissed claims that Gordhan's prosecution is politically motivated.