It emerged on Tuesday that the withdrawal of charges against the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan and his co-accused caused considerable conflict between the head of the Hawks, Berning Ntlemeza and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams.
In information that was obtained from emails that have been attached to the answering affidavits that were filed as part of a court application lodged by the Helen Suzman Foundation, which sought to have Abrahams suspended, it was revealed that Ntlemeza felt that the decision by Abrahams to withdraw charges against Gordhan “was not made in good faith,” and had not considered the evidence that his agency, the Hawks, had gathered as an investigative agency. Ntlemeza further accused Abrahams of withdrawing the charges against Gordhan and his co-accused based on what he called “noise” from the media, politicians, civil society and other groups that were sympathetic to Gordhan and his allies. “These groups have falsely accussed the Hawks and the NPA in the public domain of pursuing the case against the accused persons for political purposes on instruction of political masters, which is utter nonsense.” In his unrelenting attack on Abraham, Ntlemeza said that he would bring the law enforcement agencies into disrepute since he had shown himself to be deceptive. Ntlemeza reiterated that it was his considered opinion that they had a strong case against Gordhan and the other co-accused, adding that it would be improper for the NDPP to stall or withdraw the prosecution.
In his response, Abrahams stated that he found Ntlemeza disconcerting and went further and reminded Ntlemeza of his constitutional parameters. “Your legal and constitutional mandate does not permit you to advise me when to withdraw matters or when to proceed with prosecution.” He went further to insist that Ntlemeza refrain from sending him emails of such a nature as this would create problems for the two of them later on.
Meanwhile, it has also been learnt that President Jacob Zuma has written to Abrahams asking him to give reasons why he should not be suspended and face a full enquiry into his fitness. It was further learnt that President Jacob Zuma also wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sibongile Mzinyati, and special director of public procecutions, Tori Pretorius, demanding the same response.