“The days of disrespecting the decisions of the NPA are over”, said National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams yesterday shortly after announcing that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan would be charged with fraud.
Abrahams was responding to questions from journalists about the timing of the decisions to summon the trusted finance minister and two former SARS officials.
“What if this decision was made by a Judge, what if this decision was made by the Public Protector, would your reaction have been the same? The days of disrespecting the NPA are over,” Abrahams replied.
“The days of unaccountability and not holding senior government officials accountable are over.”
Meanwhile, Gordhan’s summons sparked panic on the markets, with the rand tumbling by 3 percent even as Abrahams made the announcement.
Gordhan, who headed SARS before becoming finance minister in 2009, and former SARS colleagues Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, have been ordered to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2.
The charges relate to Pillay’s employment contract.
Abrahams said investigations had shown Pillay’s early retirement in 2010 should not have been approved as he was subsequently employed on a five-year contract from January the following year.
He added investigations into the “rogue spy unit” established on Gordhan’s watch were at an “advanced stage and ongoing”.
The ANC asked Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula to cooperate and not to make media statements.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said: “This investigation and related, untested and mischievous ‘conspiracy theories’ has had a detrimental effect on the South African economy and we trust that today’s announcement will move us a step closer to uncovering the truth and bring this matter to finality.”