Appointment of Shaun Abrahams as NDPP invalid, ConCourt rules

National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams.
National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

The appointment of Shaun Abrahams as the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is invalid, the Constitutional Court ruled on Monday.

In delivering the judgment, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said that the manner in which Mxolisi Nxasana, Abrahams' predecessor, was removed from office is constitutionally invalid.

"The manner in which Mr Nxasana vacated office is inconsonant  with the constitutionally required independence of the office of the NDDP," said Madlanga.

"Now that I've held that the manner in which Mr Nxasana vacated office is constitutionally invalid, it follows that the appointment of Advocate Abrahams is also constitutionally invalid."

Justice Madlanga questioned why Zuma had failed to pursue an inquiry into Nxasana‚ but instead abandoned it to pay him to leave his post.

“The inference is inescapable that he was buying Mr Nxasana out of office.”

The judge further said that allowing Nxasana to return to office would prolong the instability at the NPA because President Cyril Ramaphosa may institute an inquiry into his fitness for taking Zuma’s R17.3-million payout.

In December 2017‚ three Pretoria High Court judges found that the settlement deal Zuma gave to Nxasana to leave his position was invalid and violated the NPA Act.

Nxasana maintained that he was removed because Zuma feared that he intended to prosecute him for corruption. However‚ his affidavit detailing these claims was not admitted into evidence because it was filed too late.

While not entertaining Nxasana’s evidence that Zuma’s campaign to remove him was driven by paranoia and self-interest‚ the high court found that he had not asked to be allowed to leave his post but rather “was persuaded to vacate the office by the unlawful payment of an amount of money substantially greater than that permitted by law”.

South Africa’s highest court ruled on August 13 2018 that Advocate Shaun Abrahams was not validly appointed to lead the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) because he had benefited from former President Jacob Zuma’s abuse of power. Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, writing on behalf of the Constitutional Court’s majority, found that Zuma had used a R17,3 million “golden handshake” to get rid of former NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana.

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