Row brews over decision
National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi’s decision to withdrew charges against three former senior South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials has sparked a national row and could face court action in the 10-year long saga which brought Sars to its knees.
Judge Johann Kriegler, chair of Freedom Under Law, said in a statement the withdrawal of the charges meant “bad news for the [ex-commissioner Tom] Moyane moles left lurking in Sars, and for their embattled ally, the public protector”.
“It is no doubt also a grave disappointment for certain resourceful politicians, one-eyed conspiracy theorists, media gossips and other ‘useful idiots’ of the state capture brigade,” Kriegler said.
“Sadly, however, they’re unlikely to be deterred by facts.”
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said on Friday night following the defence’s representations, Batohi appointed a review panel to consider the matter and to provide her with an opinion and recommendations.
“The panel comprises director of public prosecutions Barry Madolo, acting director of public prosecutions Advocate Indra Goberdan and deputy director of public prosecutions Advocate Adrian Mopp,” Makeke said.
“In line with the above, the NDPP has carefully considered the panel’s report, the evidence and other relevant material, and held discussions with the panel. The NDPP agrees with the panel that there are no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution in this matter.”
The charges against all the accused will be withdrawn at their next appearance in court.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said yesterday it was “increasingly clear that the new NDPP works for the Pravin Gordhan faction and was appointed precisely to block this rogue unit case and any other case seeking to hold him accountable”.
Malema said the EFF was going to challenge the decision.
“It was already in court, and they pleaded. So, let’s demand a neutral judge hear the matter. Not a deployee of Gordhan,” Malema said in a swipe at Batohi.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of justice and correctional services Glynnis Breytenbach applaued the decision.
“The withdrawal of the charges] speaks for itself. Those people who have promoted this matter and other similar matters in the criminal courts need to do an introspection.
“This is not a game to destroy people’s and their family’s lives,” she said.
“Shamila Batohi has made not only the correct decision, but a courageous one. It indicates a NPA getting back on track.”