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Mon Dec 05 18:38:52 SAST 2016

Church leaders to meet Abrahams to seek clarity on Gordhan charges

Ernest Mabuza | 2016-10-18 10:25:50.0
Advocate Shaun Abrahams,the National Director of Public Prosecutions. File photo.
Image by: Simon Mathebula

The South African Council of Churches is meeting National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams on Tuesday to seek clarity and context and meaning of the charges brought against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The organisation said it is doing so out of concern for mitigating the risks of a credit rating downgrade‚ the impact of which will be felt most by poor families in our country.

Abrahams announced on October 11 that Gordhan‚ former South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula and former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay will be prosecuted.

The charges related to the early retirement of Pillay and extension of Pillay’s contract.

They are due to appear in court on November 2.

The organisation said some of the responses it will seek relate to the counts against Gordhan.

The organisation said count one on the charge sheet relates to the role of the accused in the payment of just over R1-million to the Government Employees Pension Fund‚ in relation to the early retirement of Pillay.

“This presumably because this was otherwise payable by Mr Pillay; and such payment by the employer would amount to a charge of fraud or theft on the part of the officials who caused the payment to happen.”

The organisation said a look at the law and rules governing the Government Employees Pension Fund seems to suggest otherwise.

“If the government pension fund so provides for the kind of payment approved by Gordhan‚ what is the basis for criminality‚ let alone fraud? Hence the need for the assistance of the NDPP to understand the charges‚” the organisation said in a statement.

The organisation said these might be very serious crimes‚ but they were classified as fraud - presumably of a commercial nature - in which case the prosecution would have been under the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit.

“The question that this raises is why this case should be prosecuted through the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit that must be intended for terrorist cases.”

It said the examples of these cases under this unit included things like the nuclear non-proliferation infringements; foreign military assistance; and cases of atrocities as considered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“With the explanation of the NPA‚ we might learn to understand the gravity of the alleged criminality.”

The organisation said these questions had been sent in advance to the NPA ahead of the meeting with Abrahams.

On Monday‚ the NPA announced that Magashula and Pillay‚ through their lawyers‚ made representations to Abrahams‚ whereby they requested him to review the decision to prosecute them.

The NPA said‚ after the representations of Magashula and Pillay‚ that Abrahams invited Gordhan through his lawyers‚ as well as Hawks head Gen Berning Ntlemeza and South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane‚ to make representations before 5pm on Tuesday.

- TMG Digital

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