Note to editors: The following remarks were delivered today at a media briefing by DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Adv. Glynis Breytenbach MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, and DA Member on the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI), Adv. Hendrik Schmidt MP in Parliament today. This briefing was chaired by the DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP.
Under Jacob Zuma and the ANC, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and our key institutions who are charged with combatting priority crimes, like corruption, have been captured.
These institutions, including the Hawks, have been reduced to mere puppets who serve at the pleasure of the Zuma mafia. They are tasked with carrying out political hits rather than being allowed to carry out investigations and prosecutions without fear or favour.
In the most recent instance the National Director of Public prosecutions (NDPP), Shaun Abrahams, malicious and ill-considered decision to charge the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, cost our economy R50 billion in a mere 24 hours.
This irreparable damage to our economy, which we can ill-afford given that 8.9 million people are without jobs, is unacceptable and cannot be left to stand without due and proper accountability.
The DA’s plan to reverse this capture by the Zuma mafia will use mechanisms of Parliament to ensure that the independence of our key crime fighting institutions are safeguarded.
Why Shaun Abrahams isn’t fit for office.
Since his appointment in July 2015, Shaun Abrahams’ tenure has been characterised by poor decisions. Some of these lowlights include:
- August 2015: One as one of his first acts in office, Abrahams controversially dropped charges of perjury against Ngcobo Jiba, allegedly on legal advice – an allegation which is refuted in an affidavit by Willie Hofmeyr.
Abrahams said that the decision to drop charges wasn’t his and that he only made the announcement. This tactic of denying responsibility is something we have seen consistently with Abrahams denying making the final decision to charge Pravin Gordhan too.
- August 2015: At the same media briefing in which he announced the decision to drop charges against Jiba, he also announced his decision to promote her to the head of prosecution services. Jiba has since been struck from the roll of advocates and is facing suspension from the NPA thanks to the intervention of NGO’s and the General Council of the Bar. In her time as acting NDPP, she managed to incur the criticism of TWELVE judges, on FOUR benches, in THREE different matters.
- May 2016: Abrahams announced that the NPA would be appealing the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling in the Spy Tapes matter, wasting even more time and money trying to keep the President from accountability and protecting Zuma from having his day in court.
- May 2016: Abrahams decided to re-institute charges against Johan Booysen, charges that were based on flimsy evidence and that had already been thrown out of court.
- October 2016: Abrahams met with senior cabinet members and the President at the ANC headquarters of Luthuli House the day before announcing his decision to charge the Finance Minister with fraud.
- October 2016: Announced his decision to charge Finance Minister with Fraud. The charges are without merit, by his own admission, and have since been withdrawn.
- October 2016: It is revealed that when Abrahams made his decision to charge Gordhan, he was in possession of, yet purposefully ignored, documents containing information that more than 3 000 cases of early retirement had been approved in circumstances exactly like that under which Gordhan approved the early retirement of Pillay.
- The frivolous and unsubstantiated prosecutions against Shadrack Sibiya and Robert McBride, both ending in embarrassing failures for the NPA.
It is abundantly clear that the current head of the NPA is highly questionable and not fit for office.
The DA has already written to the President in terms of section 12(6) of the NPA Act to request that he suspend Shaun Abrahams as NDPP. This is the necessary first step in terms of the law.
We await action from the President in this regard, however, should he not take heed of our call, the DA will not hesitate to make use of the Parliamentary mechanism available to us – that is, having a motion passed in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in the same sitting requesting the suspension of Shaun Abrahams.
This, according to the NPA Act, would force the removal of Shaun Abrahams.
The DA’s private member bill
It is clear that too much power is concentrated in the President regarding the appointment and removal of the NDPP.
It is for this reason that the DA intends to introduce a Constitutional Amendment Bill, the same Bill previously introduced by the late Dene Smuts in the fourth Parliament, that will ensure the appointment and removal of the NDPP is subject to proper oversight and accountability.
Whereas section 179 of the Constitution currently provides for the NDPP to be appointed by the President, as head of the national executive, our bill requires that the President’s decision be informed by a resolution of the National Assembly passed with a supporting vote of at least 60% of the members of the National Assembly, which resolution should be based on the recommendation of a committee of the National Assembly.
Our proposed amendment would also leave room for civil society to be involved in the recommendation through a public participation process in terms of section 59(1)(a) of the Constitution.
This would make the process for the appointment of an NDPP similar to that by which we appoint, for example, the Public Protector.
The Constitution is currently mum on the removal of an NDPP. This is provided for instead in sections 12(6), 12(7) and 12(8) of the NPA Act, and not in the Constitution itself.
Our private members’ bill seeks to amend the Constitution in such a way that the NDPP can be removed from office by a resolution passed by a vote of at least two thirds of the members of the National Assembly. Such resolution must be based on grounds of misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence.
This would remove from the process the current, virtual sole discretion of the President to remove the NDPP and place it in the hands of Parliament, as representatives of all South Africans.
No NDPP must serve at the pleasure of the President alone – this puts far too much power in the hands of the President and makes it far too easy for the NPA to be captured and used for political purposes.
Our Constitution could not have envisaged a President as devious and self-serving as Jacob Zuma, and therefore the loopholes used by Zuma to capture our institutions must be closed by Parliament.
Why Ntlemeza isn’t fit to hold office
The NPA is however not the only criminal justice and corruption-fighting unit in South Africa that has been captured by Zuma’s mafia government.
The Hawks, tasked with investigating and combatting priority crimes, such as corruption and organised crime, has also been captured.
South Africa has watched as the successful, independent and effective Scorpions unit was gutted and replaced by the impotent and politically willing Hawks.
Since the disbandment of the corruption-busting Scorpions, arrest and conviction rates by its replacement have plummeted by an astounding 60% and 83% respectively.
Under Berning Ntlemeza this rot has only seeped deeper into this institution.
The DA maintains that Ntlemeza is unfit to hold the position of National Head of the Hawks.
This sentiment was confirmed in January 2014 when the North Gauteng High Court Judge Matonjane stated that Ntlemeza was “biased, dishonest and lacks integrity and honour” and further that the man responsible for fighting priority crime, was dishonest as he “made false statements under oath.”
Under the compromised Ntlemeza and at the behest of Nhleko, the Hawks are being used to settle political scores and to intimidate those who would speak truth to the corrupt who are in power.
Ntlemeza’s actions have shown his incompetence and his abuse of position amounts to misconduct. These are explicit grounds for removal of the DPCI Head from office as laid out in the SAPS Act.
Some of the people who have been targeted by Ntlemeza include:
- Former head of the Hawks in KZN, Johan Booysen. The first item on his agenda after being appointed as head of the Hawks was to suspend Johan Booysen.
- Former head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major-General Shadrack Sibiya who was also suspended by Ntlemeza. It was in this case, in January 2014 that the North Gauteng High Court slated Ntlemeza, citing his suspension of Sibiya as unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional and that Ntlemeza acted “without any single shred of [prima facie] evidence.” Sibiya has since been acquitted on charges of fraud and the NPA admitted that there was no case from the outset, but still chose to prosecute him anyway.
- The frivolous prosecution instituted against Robert McBride, which was also withdrawn because not one witness could be produced against him.
- The investigation into Pravin Gordhan, which turned out to be a politically motivated witch-hunt to find something, at all costs.
- Vlok Symington was also targeted by the Hawks, under orders from Ntlemeza, and was held hostage in the SARS boardroom with Hawks officials demanding that he surrender his copy of an email that had been forwarded to him by the SARS Commissioner.
The DA will thus write to Minister Nhleko urging him to provisionally suspend Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks pending an inquiry as envisioned in section 17DA(2) of the South African Police Services Act.
South Africa’s key institutions are under constant attack, if they have not yet already been captured.
We believe that our proposed private members bill and related action steps will restore the NPA and the Hawks to combatting crime without fear or favour.
This sort of capture and abuse of crime-fighting and prosecutorial institutions is what we have come to expect from the ANC in government. For so long as the ANC protects President Zuma, in his bid to capture and plunder the state and its institutions, it is the ANC who bears full responsibility for these wrongs
The DA will fight through all Parliamentary means possible, for justice and to ensure that rights of all South Africans are upheld.