NPA head Shaun Abrahams withdraws charges against Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan and two former Sars officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay were set to appear in court this week on fraud charges.

FILE:  NPA boss Shaun Abrahams. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams has announced the withdrawal of fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay.

The three men were set to appear in court this week in connection with fraud charges relating to the early retirement and re-employment of Pillay.

Abrahams says after considering representations he found Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula lacked the requisite intention to act unlawfully.

"I am of the view that this matter could easily have been clarified had there been proper engagement and co-operation between the Hawks, Mr Magashula, Mr Pillay and Minister Gordhan."

His announcement of the withdrawal of the charges, as well as the summons, means the three do not have to appear in court on Wednesday.

Abrahams says he considered a 2009 memo from a Sars legal executive which found that there was no technical reasons why Pillay could not retire early and be re-appointed.

The advocate also considered an opinion from the then acting director general of the Department of Public Works and Administration.

Abrahams concluded that it appeared Magashula and Gordhan were unsure about whether Pillay’s early retirement could be approved.

He has, however, defended the initial decision to prosecute, saying on the facts there was a case to answer to.

The decision to charge Gordhan was met with uproar from civil society and some government members who pledged their support for the finance minister.

Legal experts who have studied the evidence said there was simply no case and that the decision was politically motivated.