NPA head: Giving Zuma 3 days to decide on my suspension unreasonable

President Jacob Zuma has written to NDPP Shaun Abrahams, asking him for reasons he should not be suspended.

NPA director Shaun Abrahams takes questions from MPs about the recent charges against Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams says it was unreasonable for Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation to give the president three days to decide whether or not to suspend him.

He’s responded to the civil society groups’ court application to have him removed from office pending an inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

President Jacob Zuma has written to Abrahams asking him for reasons not to suspend him.

In his affidavit, Abrahams stresses that Zuma has not yet decided whether he should be suspended.

He says the president has merely asked for more time to decide and for Abrahams to provide him with reasons not to suspend him, and therefore there is no urgency in this court application.

Abrahams says it was unreasonable to give the president just three days to respond.

The NPA head urges the court not to be pressed into a hearing because there is a concern that the finance minister could be charged again and the NPA will not be held to ransom by civic organisations trying to prevent a prosecution where there is reason to prosecute.

The hearing is scheduled to be heard by a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria next week.

Meanwhile, the Presidency says it will await a response from Abrahams and two other prosecutors before proceeding with an inquiry into their fitness to hold office

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga says, “The president’s decision follows the request by Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation for the president to suspend the three prosecutors, pending an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.”

ABRAHAMS TELLS HAWKS BOSS TO BACK OFF

Abrahams has told Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza to back off and refrain from telling him when to prosecute cases and when charges will be withdrawn.

In a letter to Ntlemeza sent on 8 November, Abrahams warns the Hawks head that his mandate does not allow him to decide when charges will be withdrawn.

He urges him to refrain from such conduct or face serious repercussions.

The heated exchanged of letters between the head of the elite crime fighting unit and the country's top prosecutor reveal the power struggle over the prosecution and withdrawal of charges against Gordhan.

Just one day before Abrahams announced the withdrawal of charges, Ntlemeza accused him of not acting in good faith and making the decision based on the noise made by the media and civil society.

In his detailed response, Abrahams hits back and says he takes umbrage at the allegations he did not act in good faith and sarcastically asks why the investigators never uncovered a crucial affidavit which sank the state’s case.

Read the NDPP's answering affidavit in the application to have him suspended:

NDPP Answering Aff by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

FREEDOM UNDER LAW WELCOMES ZUMA’S LETTER

At the same time, Freedom Under Law has welcomed Zuma’s letter to Abrahams in which he asks him to give reasons why he should not be suspended.

The organisation's Piet Olivier says: “We want the president to follow through and suspend them and for them to be removed for a parliamentary inquiry, but we are very happy that the first step has been taken.

Earlier on Tuesday, Eyewitness News revealed Abrahams’s response to a court application brought by Freedom Under law and the Helen Suzman Foundation to have him suspended as the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

Included in his response are a heated exchange of letters, between him and Ntlemeza that reveal the Hawks’ anger at the NPA head’s decision to withdraw the controversial charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)