President Cyril Ramaphosa awaits the two Constitutional Court judgments before he determines the position of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams, a parliamentary reply revealed.
Ramaphosa was responding to a parliamentary question posed by DA MP Choloane David Matsepe, released on Thursday.
He asked Ramaphosa “whether he intends to remove Abrahams from the position of National Director [of Public Prosecutions] (NDPP)”, and “if not, why not?”
He also asked whether he had found that the NPA was capable of executing its mandate under Abrahams’ incumbent leadership.
“On February 28, the Constitutional Court heard argument in two cases – one brought by former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana, and one brought by Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution,” Ramaphosa replied.
“One of the questions before the court in these cases, was whether or not Mr Abrahams was lawfully appointed, and, if not, whether or not he should vacate his office.
“We await the judgment of the Constitutional Court in these appeals.”
In addition, Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation have also approached the High Court for orders to institute inquiries into Abrahams’ fitness to hold office and that of other senior NPA members, the reply continued.
As for the second half of the question, Ramaphosa said the effectiveness of law enforcement institutions depended to a great extent on capable and credible management.
“As we committed to do in the State of the Nation Address, we are working to ensure that the entire leadership of the National Prosecuting Authority is strengthened.”
Appeals stall process
The North Gauteng High Court ordered Ramaphosa in December 2017 – while he was still deputy president – to appoint a new head of the NPA after the court declared the post vacant.
Freedom under Law, Corruption Watch and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution had gone to court seeking an order declaring former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana’s 2015 removal invalid.
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled that it would not be just for the former prosecutions boss to be reinstated, and that then president Jacob Zuma was conflicted in appointing a new NDPP.
Nxasana had accepted a golden handshake from Zuma worth R17.3m in 2015. An inquiry into his fitness to hold office was abruptly halted before his departure.
The subsequent appeals have stalled the implementation of the court order.