S. Africa withdraws fraud charges against finance min.

Decision comes two days ahead of scheduled court appearance of Pravin Gordhan, two ex-officials of Revenue Services

S. Africa withdraws fraud charges against finance min.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Fraud charges against South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former officials of the Revenue Services have been withdrawn, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced Monday.

There was public outcry in the country after the minister was charged with fraud three weeks ago.

"I have decided to overrule the decision to prosecute Gordhan and [former Revenue Services commissioners] Oupa Magashule and Ivan Pillay," NPA head and National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams told reporters.

Charges against Gordhan come from his decade heading the South African Revenue Services between 1999 and 2009, when he approved large payments to Ivan Pillay, a former deputy revenue commissioner who took early retirement in 2010 at age 56. Pillay was later rehired as a contractor.

Gordhan, Magashule and Pillay were scheduled to appear before a court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Opposition parties and members of civil society had vowed to protest in a show of solidarity with the finance minister when he appeared in court.

South Africa’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the resignation of Shaun Abrahams saying he purposefully ignored evidence that the alleged fraud was in fact normal procedure.

Abrahams, however, said at the press briefing that he would not resign because he did nothing wrong. He said he was not responsible for taking the decision to prosecute the minister.

"The decision to prosecute is taken at various levels. In this incident, it was taken by the special director [of Public Prosecutions],” he said adding that his part was only to review the matter.

The announcement to prosecute the minister three weeks ago led to tumbling of South Africa’s currency, the rand against major currencies.

Prosecutors however, said they would continue to investigate Gordhan’s alleged illegal establishment of a unit to investigate organized crime and tax evasion while at the Revenue Services.

Andre Duvenhage, professor of political science at Northwest University, said that he believed the charges against the minister were politically motivated, especially since Gordhan is opposed to President Jacob Zuma.

The NPA head denied political interference was at play. "I don’t pay much consideration to political considerations," Abrahams said.

Last Mod: 31 Ekim 2016, 15:23
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