Shaun Abrahams plays with serious state matters - Yo-yo game a no-no

I don't know Shaun Abrahams very well, but the boss of the National Prosecuting Authority strikes me as a playful character.

However, sadly for him, I am tempted to think he grew up in a home with no toys. Or, if his parents did buy him toys, he detested the kind of toys that were foisted upon him.

As a result, he grew up nursing one ambition: "When I grow up I'm going to spoil myself with all manner of toys, and will not hesitate to engineer as many practical jokes as possible."

Only a person with a misplaced sense of humour will behave in the manner the honourable Abrahams has conducted himself of late.

On the eve of the 2016 budget speech, which was to be tabled on February 24, Abrahams's colleagues at the Hawks sent Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan a list of 27 questions around the so-called SARS "rogue unit" which had been instituted during his tenure there.

The questions revolved around the legality of the unit in general, but one question specifically referred to Gordhan's authorisation of an early retirement package for Ivan Pillay, the erstwhile head of the unit.

Gordhan responded to the questions on March 30. In a subsequent interview, he said: "I believe this was meant to intimidate and distract us from the work we had to do in preparing the 2016 Budget."

Then on October 11 Abrahams, guided by his investigative colleagues at the Hawks, announced fraud charges against Gordhan, with an alternative charge of theft.

It was odd that an experienced lawyer like Abrahams made this announcement with alacrity, departing from the established legal norm where a person who has been charged with a crime cannot be named until they have appeared in court. The obvious reason being that the person should enjoy the privilege and dignity of anonymity in case the court withdraws the charges immediately.

That and the fact that Abrahams had attended a meeting at Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, the day before making the announcement raised the speculation: Gordhan was being sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. But why?

Ah, perhaps it was the small matter of his refusal to engage the four banks which had shut down the accounts of companies associated with the Gupta family this year in April this year? The banks had revealed "suspicious" transactions worth R6.8-billion.

At any rate, two weeks ago - after a huge media campaign by the CEOs of the country's top companies in support of Gordhan, a move coupled with grassroots protests by civil society organisations including Save South Africa - Abrahams cracked a huge smile: "I was joking, why do you take yourselves so seriously!"

He then announced that the NPA was now withdrawing fraud charges against Gordhan.

The relief was palpable enough to affect the rand which jumped as high as 1.8% against the dollar, the strongest level since September 28.

Then last week, Abrahams announced that the NPA was proceeding with charges against Gordhan. Again!

It's like a yo-yo, this game Abrahams is playing. Except our country is not a yo-yo. Our economy is not a yo-yo. Which brings us to yet another case which Abrahams and his colleagues can't seem to decide how to handle.

The case relates to President Jacob Zuma's estranged wife, Nompumelelo MaNtuli Zuma. She was kicked out of the president's homestead in Nkandla in January 2015, and faced an investigation in connection with an alleged plot to poison the president.

Her lawyers say they have since been battling to get clarity from State Security Minister David Mahlobo, the police and Abrahams office as to the status of the investigation. And now Abrahams has come out, in a letter to MaNtuli's lawyers, to say: "Please note that I have been advised that your client has been identified as one of the suspects (in the alleged conspiracy to murder Zuma)."

The poison was reportedly picked up by American doctors during a medical examination Zuma undertook while in the US in August 2014. Russian medics, who examined him a few weeks later, concurred with their American counterparts.

Although Abrahams has confirmed that MaNtuli is still one of the suspects in the investigation, he has failed, more than a year later, to apprise her lawyers as to the progress of the investigation.

This is unfair on MaNtuli who, as a suspect, is wallowing in limbo, uncertain as to what is going to happen next.

Further, this whole imbroglio makes a mockery of the country's image. Abrahams must find other toys he can play with, not matters of national importance.

Khumalo is the author of #ZuptasMustFall and Other Rants

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