Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) filed an urgent application yesterday to have criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan set aside.
“This is after we invited [national director of public prosecutions] NDPP Shaun Abrahams to furnish us with more information about the charges, or to withdraw them voluntarily. He failed to do this, despite being given a week’s notice,” the two organisations said in a joint statement.
Relating to the early retirement and subsequent re-employment of Ivan Pillay, a former deputy commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), they said the charges “are completely invalid, both legally and on any plausible reading of the facts”.
“At best, the charges reveal dizzying incompetence at the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and the Hawks. At worst, they confirm our suspicions – that the criminal justice system is being undermined to serve particular political interests.”
The application by FUL and the HSF did not seek to protect particular individuals or to take any side in factional battles.
The people of South Africa had a right to a criminal justice system that worked for, not against, them. “We are going to court to vindicate that right,” FUL and the HSF said.
Gordhan, Pillay and Oupa Magashula were charged with fraud by the NPA.
They are due to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2.