Editorial: Pull the plug on Gordhan debacle

With two days to go before Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s appearance in court on what many believe to be trumped-up charges of fraud and theft, there is still time for national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to pull the plug on the exercise.

Two Sunday newspapers reported yesterday that informal discussions were under way between Abrahams, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the lawyers of Gordhan and his two co-accused to drop the charges.

There is also mention of a letter drafted by Abrahams’s office in which he is reportedly planning to withdraw the charges against Gordhan and former SARS bosses Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula, although an NPA spokesman has denied any decision to this effect.

As South Africans, we can only hope Abrahams and company will finally have come to their senses and realised they cannot possibly make the charges stick.

The Helen Suzman Foundation believes Abrahams ignored important evidence in his decision to charge the three and has filed court papers to this effect.

There are also claims the Hawks’ investigation into the matter was half-baked, with an incomplete docket allegedly handed to Abrahams.

At least the NPA boss will have someone to blame for the fiasco, though for many Abrahams’s credibility is already shot.

And to think South Africans were so hopeful when he was appointed, having watched in recent years as the NPA swung from one much-publicised debacle to the next.

But instead of bringing much-needed stability and leadership, Abrahams’s only success so far has been in proving himself to be manipulable and a lightweight.

His action against Gordhan, delivered with such swagger, only served to further damage the image of the NPA.

The correct course of action would be to drop the charges immediately and admit going after Gordhan had been a mistake.

If the NPA and the Hawks really want to show South Africans they are serious about corruption busting, they could start by turning their attention to Des van Rooyen.

It turns out Van Rooyen not only visited the Guptas the night before his disastrous appointment as finance minister, but for an entire week, according to yesterday’s Sunday Times.

This is one minister whose number must surely be up.

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