Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach withdraws from consideration for NDPP

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a press conference in Parliament, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Adv Glynnis Breytenbach.

After consulting widely with colleagues in the DA and the legal fraternity, and after thinking deeply over the last few days, Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach has decided to withdraw her name from the shortlist for next week’s interview for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

Adv Breytenbach would have made an excellent NDPP. She is fearless, brave, utterly independent, and has for most of her life been a professional prosecutor.

Over the last fifteen years, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has had its credibility severely undermined by a succession of appointments in the position of NDPP who have failed to uphold the strict standards of independence and integrity that the office demands. Successive National Directors have used the position to influence politics, pursue factional battles, suppress certain prosecutions and unduly pursue others. In so doing, they have defeated the ends of justice and have undermined that sacred cornerstone of constitutional democracy, equality before the law.

The actions of these Directors have over time cemented in the public mind the perception that the justice system can be easily abused by the politically powerful and connected, and that the NPA answers to political masters, rather than making the corrupt answer to the law. Indeed, it was exactly this kind of abuse that led to Adv Breytenbach leaving the NPA and joining the Democratic Alliance.

The most obvious and egregious example of this abuse is the handling of the prosecution of Jacob Zuma, who has managed to evade trial for corruption for so long despite overwhelmingly strong evidence against him. We continue to this day in our fight to have him held accountable, and we will not give up in this fight until he faces trial.

Other examples include the persecution of Pravin Gordhan, Oupa Magashule and Ivan Pillay in the matter of Gordhan’s early retirement, a prosecution that was instituted solely for the purpose of discrediting, and possibly intimidating, Gordhan at a time that he was standing up against state capture. Similarly, names such as that of Johan Booysen, Robert McBride, Shadrack Sibiya, Anwa Dramat and others can be added to the list.

The politicisation of the NDPP and the NPA is not just an aberration of the Zuma presidency either. It started under the Mbeki Presidency, and is simply the natural consequence of the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment, which has as its explicit goal the capture of the state’s levers of power in order to concentrate power in the party.

This policy of cadre deployment has demoralised professional civil servants who are judged not on the quality of their work, but on their connections and loyalty to the party. It has severely undermined the professionalism of the civil service and has allowed the vast network of corrupt cadres to entrench themselves in every department and state owned entity. We have seen the pernicious effect of this cadre deployment at SARS, at Eskom, at SAA, at Denel, in the SAPS, and indeed at the NPA.

If public faith in the NPA it is to be rebuilt at all, the President must appoint someone who is seen to be totally above party politics. It is not enough to know that the person will act independently. They must also be seen to be independent. And it is this factor which has led to the decision that Adv. Breytenbach has made.

This is an opportunity for the President to demonstrate to the country that the criminal justice system will no longer be abused for political ends, and that every person is equal before the law, no matter their position or their power. This is an opportunity to reassert South Africa’s leadership role on the continent, where the abuse of legal process to protect the powerful is all too common.

The President should use this opportunity to admit that the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment has been disastrous for South Africa, and has led directly to state capture, and that cadre deployment should be stopped.

He must appoint a candidate who is fiercely independent, loyal only to the law and the Constitution, and with a proven track record of acting accordingly.

Over the years, the DA has been a consistent fighter to ensure the NDPP appointed is a fit and proper person, and that they act within the law.

We fought the appointment of Advocate Menzi Simelane to the position of NDPP in 2011 and won. This was a precedent-setting case, in which it was determined that the President, when appointing an NDPP, must choose a person who is fit and proper person, with due regard to his/her experience, conscientiousness and integrity. This case further determined that these qualities are jurisdictional facts that must be objectively assessed, therefore making it open to judicial review.

We have also proposed in the past that the appointment procedures for the NDPP be reformed to limit the power of the President to appoint whomever he or she likes, and to involve Parliament more directly in the process. Specifically, we have proposed a constitutional amendment that will check the President’s power to appoint an NDPP of his choice by requiring that he decides on an appointment only upon the recommendation of Parliament.

This model will be similar to that used for the appointment of heads of Chapter 9 institutions and encourages selection on objective grounds during a transparent multi-party process. The Private Member’s Bill to effect this amendment, proposed by the late DA MP Dene Smuts in 2013, was voted down by the ANC in a Motion of Desirability. The DA has stated before that we intend to re-introduce a Private Member’s Bill on this issue.

We are pleased that the process currently underway to appoint a new NDPP is a step in the right direction, and we support the interview process being public and open to the media.

DA to probe basis and details of Abrahams retirement

The DA has taken note of media reports indicating that former National Director of Public Prosecutions (“NDPP”), Advocate Shaun Abrahams, has retired. It is manifestly clear that this is a way for Advocate Abrahams to avoid the consequences of the damage he has wrought on the institution of the National Prosecuting Authority in the past three years.

The DA will therefore probe the rationale for the decision to grant him retirement, as well as the basis on which his benefits will be determined.

While employed as NDPP, Shaun Abrahams demonstrated that he is a deeply compromised individual with an extremely poor grasp of basic legal principles and that he has no respect for the rule of law. His time at the head of the NPA was marked by political persecutions and a weakening of the institution’s independence, which opened the door for the executive branch of the ANC government to exercise undue influence over prosecutions. He also oversaw an exodus of talented and qualified prosecutors who could no longer serve under his compromised leadership.

Earlier this month, his appointment as NDPP was set aside by the Constitutional Court, which court determined that he was never lawfully appointed.

The DA therefore believe that Advocate Abrahams’ retirement benefits should not be those that would be due to a retiring NDPP, but should instead be that attached to Advocate Abrahams’ last held position, that of a senior state advocate in the Priority Crimes Litigation department.

The DA will also question the rationale for Abrahams’ exit from the NPA being processed as a retirement. Ironically, one of the biggest blunders from Abrahams’ ill-fated stint as NDPP was the persecution of Minister Pravin Gordhan and senior SARS officials, Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashule, over the alleged unlawful approval of Gordhan’s early retirement.

South Africans deserve a criminal justice system that is independent, just, and effective. The NPA under Abrahams was the exact opposite. His exit is a welcome close to an awful chapter. He will not be missed.

#ShaunAbrahams: DA calls on NPA head to be appointed by Parliament

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Constitutional Court ruling today finding Shaun Abrahams’ appointment as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) invalid. The Court found that the manner in which former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana vacated office was Constitutionally invalid.

In December 2017, the North Gauteng High Court declared that former President Jacob Zuma’s decision to terminate Nxasana’s appointment as the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) unconstitutional. Furthermore, the High Court ordered then-Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to appoint a new NDPP as Zuma was too compromised.

The DA has propagated the view for some time that the appointment process regarding the NDPP should follow the concept of public and parliamentary involvement similar to the process of appointment of the Public Protector and the judiciary.  This would be a good time to revisit that option.

Zuma’s decision to appoint Abrahams as head of the NPA was nothing more than an attempt to prevent the prosecuting authority from reinstating the 783 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money-laundering against him.

Parliament should play a central role in appointing the NDPP in order to prevent political influence over the NPA.

Furthermore, the DA welcomes the Court’s ruling that Section 12(6) of the NPA Act unconstitutional; this section determines that the President can suspend the NDPP for an indefinite period without pay.

The Court has given Parliament 18 months to remedy this defect. In the interim, the President will only be allowed to suspend the NDPP for a period of 6 months and the NDPP will receive a full salary in that period.

President Ramaphosa must stop evading the inevitable and should, with the participation of Parliament, appoint a credible and independent NDPP which will restore the public faith in the integrity of the NPA.

DA welcomes Abrahams decision to prosecute Zuma

The DA welcomes the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Shaun Abrahams, to proceed with the criminal trial of Jacob Zuma. This is a victory for all who have fought for years for Jacob Zuma to face accountability for his crimes. That accountability starts now.
We launched this review application in 2009, after the 783 charges were dropped illegally and unconstitutionally. It is a fight that we have been waging in the Courts for almost nine years and today’s decision is a vindication of the decision to challenge the dropping of the charges. Now there must be no further delay in starting the trial. The witnesses are ready, the evidence is strong, and Jacob Zuma must finally have his day in court.
We will brief our legal teams immediately to oppose any effort by Zuma to delay this any further, including his application for a stay of prosecution.
We will also fight to ensure the public do not have to carry the costs of Zuma’s defence, as they have already done for the past 9 years.
I thank all of the legal teams who have waged this ‘lawfare’ over the years. Their effort and dedication has defeated Zuma’s endless delay tactics.
When Shabir Shaik was found guilty on charges of corruption and fraud in relation to the Arms Deal on 7 April 2005, Judge Squires’ judgment made it clear that Zuma must also be charged, and that the evidence for this was “convincing and really overwhelming”.
Shaik and Zuma’s trials should never have been separated in the first place and the decision to reinstate the charges should not have been a difficult one. Zuma’s day in court is years overdue and the NPA’s prosecutions team have said that there was a strong case on the merits and the only reason charges were dropped was because of the infamous Spy Tapes.
The then NDPP made the decision to withdraw charges against Zuma because he felt that the Spy Tapes had prejudiced Zuma and had made the trial unfair toward him. The DA challenged this decision in court and this is what we have been fighting for the past nine years, which has now been vindicated.

Shaun Abrahams must announce reinstatement of charges against Zuma

The DA is keenly awaiting the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP), Shaun Abrahams, on whether or not former president Jacob Zuma should stand trial on corruption charges.
The head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has run out of ways to delay his decision on the matter and the DA’s nine-year battle to have the charges against Zuma reinstated has finally come to a head.
The time has arrived for the NPA to reinstate the 783 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money-laundering against Zuma. The DA will accept nothing less.
It is a victory for the DA but also for South Africa that events have reached this point. As a result of our dogged, unwavering pursuit of justice we will all know, today or in the days to come, whether or not Zuma will finally have his day in court.
Zuma cannot be allowed to walk scot-free if he is found guilty of any of the charges brought against him. South Africans have waited too long for the verdict and Abrahams must now put an end to his delaying tactics.

Ramaphosa must ensure borders are put on high alert as Guptas are a flight risk

The Democratic Alliance calls on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action today to ensure that borders and airports are put on alert in order to stop the Gupta family from trying to flee the country ahead of their reported imminent arrests. We should not allow them to leave South Africa, and certainly not with the assistance of government, like Omar al-Bashir was allowed to do.

Following reports that warrants of arrest are being prepared for at least one Gupta brother as well as a high-ranking politician, our borders should be urgently secured to prevent the Guptas from slipping through the net. It is unlikely that the Gupta family will sit and wait for their arrest. There is a strong possibility that they will attempt to flee the country, if they have not done so already.

Therefore, Ramaphosa should today confirm with Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, whether the Guptas are still in the country and if so, must put all borders and airports on high alert as they are a flight risk.

Ramaphosa must ascertain from Minister Dlodlo the following without delay:

  • Determine the whereabouts of the persons for whom the warrants of arrest have been reportedly been issued;
  • Ensure that all exit points from South Africa are supplied with copies of the relevant arrest warrants;
  • Ensure that all exit points from South Africa are placed on high alert and instructed to execute arrest warrants on sight.

It is no secret that President Zuma is deeply compromised and implicated in this matter through his well-known relationship with the Guptas – and their joint State Capture efforts. When the President is compromised and unable to act in an impartial manner, the Deputy President as second in command, ought to take action in the best interests of the country,

This was highlighted by the Western Cape High Court last year, when the court ordered that the Deputy President must appoint the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) as the President was compromised. The court said, on the facts at hand, it was “incongruous that, under those circumstances, President Zuma should be seen to be appointing an NDPP, since his conflict, both actual and perceived, is self-evident” and that “as long as the incumbent president is in office, the deputy president is responsible for decisions relating to the appointment, suspension or removal of the NDPP”.

The Deputy President has been extremely vocal in condemning State Capture and corruption. Therefore, as Deputy President of the country – and second in charge – Ramaphosa must act without delay.

The Guptas, along with President Zuma, must have their day in court for their role in the capture of the state. We call on South Africans who have information in this regard to come forward and alert the authorities on the whereabouts of the Guptas.

DA welcomes another judgement against Abrahams

The Democratic Alliance congratulates Freedom Under Law on their victory in the North Gauteng High Court today.
Once again the actions of Shaun Abrahams have been sharply called into question by our courts. Today’s judgement, effectively setting aside the clearly irrational and expedient decision by Abrahams to withdraw fraud and perjury charges against Jiba, has demonstrated again that he is unfit for high office. The sooner he vacates that position, the sooner the work to reverse the capture of the NPA can begin.
Unsurprisingly, the President has also once again been found wanting. Jiba and Mwrebi should now face the consequences of their actions and be held accountable for the damage they have wrought.
This judgement again confirms that the judiciary will enforce the Constitution and the rule of law and that those who choose to flout these principles will be held to account.

Zuma delaying again. Time for a real NDPP to Prosecute Zuma.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the judgment by the North Gauteng High Court effectively setting aside the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), and ordering him to vacate office. Predictably, the President has indicated he will appeal this judgment, another attempt to delay the start of the criminal trial he should have faced years ago.
No matter the appeal, Shaun Abrahams should vacate office and let someone who can actually do the job take over. He has distinguished himself in his incompetence, by taking absolutely no proactive action on any of the allegations of corruption and state capture that have come to light in recent months. He has deferred to the President, and has consistently failed to assert his own independence and that of the NPA.
We also welcome the Court’s decision to remove the power of appointing a new NDPP from President Jacob Zuma, and to grant Deputy President Ramaphosa the power to appoint a new NDPP within 60 days. Deputy President Ramaphosa should oppose the President’s appeal, and do what the Court has instructed him to do. This is the perfect opportunity for Ramaphosa to demonstrate his real commitment to fighting the scourge of corruption in the state by appointing someone of obvious integrity and independence. We call on him to not wait 60 days to do so, but to do so without delay.
The NDPP is currently working on the existing criminal charges against President Zuma and should be planning the President’s upcoming trial. We need a new NDPP soon who will pursue the prosecution of the President with the vigour that the case deserves, and that has been so lacking in previous National Directors. Whatever happens in this appeal, there is no basis for any further delay to the Zuma trial. We expect that the NDPP should proceed to trial without delay.
This judgment is now the second time that President Zuma’s powers have been limited because he is so compromised. Zuma has proved he is not willing to appoint an independent NDPP who will act without fear or favour towards him as President. Every person he has appointed to the job has been manifestly unsuitable, given the job only to protect the President from prosecution. The NPA was the first state institution to be captured, and the Court has today struck a blow against that capture and in favour of a truly independent, muscular national prosecutor. Similarly, the previous Public Protector ordered the President Zuma should not be allowed to appoint a judge to lead an inquiry into state capture.
This is why the DA has previously proposed that the President’s power to appoint the NDPP be removed, and be vested with Parliament.
It is clear the President is incapable of exercising the powers of his Office. Cyril Ramaphosa should act without delay and appoint a National Director that will begin to restore the NPA’s reputation and its independence.

Shaun Abrahams finally reverts back to DA on Pres Zuma’s 783 charges

The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv. Shaun Abrahams, has reverted back to the DA following our request to him to provide written confirmation that he received representations from President Jacob Zuma with regards to the 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering against him.
We also asked him to provide these representations to the DA, so that we could satisfy ourselves that, in the event that Adv. Abrahams were to decide not to reinstate the charges, the grounds for his decision were rational and therefore lawful.
The DA Leader Mmusi Maimane gave Abrahams until 16:00 last Friday to respond to this request.
The NDPP did not revert back on President Zuma’s presentations on Friday because he was “abroad on official business”.
Adv. Abrahams today finally came back to the DA and stated that he will respond to our request by close of business tomorrow, 8 December 2017.
These presentations cannot under any circumstances be considered in secret, considering Adv. Abrahams’ seeming close proximity to the President.
Moreover, if the representations are not rational, the DA will have no hesitation in once more reviewing the decision.
We have not spent the last eight and a half years involved in litigation merely to have an unequivocal decision by the highest courts of our land undone by an irrational administrative decision.
The DA will not rest until President Jacob Zuma has his day in court. Shaun Abrahams must do the right thing: he must reinstate the charges.

Shaun Abrahams must hand over Zuma’s new representations by 16h00 today

The DA’s lawyers have today written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shaun Abrahams, compelling him to provide written confirmation that he did in fact receive fresh representations from President Jacob Zuma in relation to the 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering before yesterday’s deadline. This must be done by no later than 16h00 today.
It goes without saying that if Adv Abrahams did receive fresh representations, these must be shared with all interested parties – including the DA – by 16h00 today in order for those interested parties to be given an opportunity to comment on such representations.
Alternatively, if no fresh representations have been made by the President, Adv Abrahams must advise on what steps have been taken to call President Zuma to his first court appearance. President Zuma remains charged, and those charges must be faced in a court of law as soon as possible.
Our view is that if the President has raised any new representations of substance, a court of law must make a determination as to whether those justify stopping the prosecution or not. This will guarantee a fair and open consideration of any new representations, and will shield the matter from any undue political interference.
We cannot allow Shaun Abrahams to consider these representations in secret, as he cannot be trusted to oversee this matter in an independent and robust manner. For almost an entire year Abrahams has been in hiding, and has failed to take any action on a number of issues, most notably the “Gupta Leaks” and the rot of State Capture perpetrated by Jacob Zuma and his ANC. As such, this matter must be dealt with by a court of law to guarantee independence.
President Jacob Zuma can only hide for so long. Make no mistake, he will have his day in court, and he will face the criminal charges levelled against him. The DA has been the principal litigant in this matter for almost a decade, and we have not wavered in our relentless pursuit of justice on behalf of South Africa and its people.
Jacob Zuma will have his day in court, he will face the charges for the crimes he is accused of, and justice will prevail.