Corruption Watch (CW) celebrates today’s ruling in the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) that invalidates former president Jacob Zuma’s appointment of Shaun Abrahams as the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP). The court found that the manner in which Abrahams’ predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana, was removed from office was unconstitutional and invalid, thus rendering Abrahams’ subsequent appointment invalid.

This judgment arises out of an application by CW, together with Freedom Under Law and the Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution, in August 2015, to review and set aside the R17.3-million settlement agreement between former NDPP Adv Mxolisi Nxasana, the president, and the minister of justice, and declare his removal from office invalid. In December 2017, the Pretoria High Court handed down judgment that the settlement agreement was indeed unlawful and that the termination of Mzasana’s appointment was invalid and set aside.

The ConCourt, having dismissed Abrahams’ appeal against the December 2017 judgment, has ordered the president, the minister of justice and correctional services, and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pay all costs. In addition, President Cyril Ramaphosa is to appoint a new NDPP within 90 days.

The court, in its judgment, affirmed the centrality of the criminal justice system, and within that system, an independent NPA. In the words of the court: ‘If you subvert the criminal justice system, you subvert the rule of law and constitutional democracy itself.’

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: “The court hit the nail on the head when it observed that ‘with a malleable, corrupt or dysfunctional prosecuting authority, many criminals – especially those holding positions of influence – will rarely, if ever answer for their criminal deeds’.”

The organisation looks forward to an NPA led by someone of integrity who will precisely hold to account the many criminals who have held, and in many cases still do hold, positions of power and influence, Lewis said. “When the story of the battle against state capture is told, this day will be remembered as a major milestone.”

He added: “We look forward to a review of the process governing key appointments, including the heads of the NPA, the police, the chapter 9 institutions and the board of state owned enterprises. What these institutions have in common is the requirement for unimpeachable integrity, for the ability to resist the destructive influence of narrow political interests and money.”

Download the judgment.


Phemelo Khaas:           083 763 3472