PROSECUTOR DROPS CHARGES AGAINST SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCE MINISTER

South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, has withdrawn all charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and two former senior officials of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula.

Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula were expected to appear in court here Wednesday over fraud charges from a decade ago relating to the early retirement and subsequent re-employment of Pillay by Gordhan whenhe was head of the SARS.

Earlier, the DEMOCRATIC aLLIANCE (DA), South Africa's main opposition party, had called on Abrahams to immediately withdraw the charges against the three and resign.

Speaking at an impromptu media briefing here Monday, Abrahams said: "I am satisfied that Magashula, Pillay and Gordhan did not have the requisite intention to act unlawfully. I am of the view that this matter could easily have been clarified had there been proper engagement and co-operation between the Hawks (the special operations unit of the South African Police Service), Magashula, Pillay and Gordhan.

"In the circumstances, I have decided to overrule the decision to prosecute Magashula, Pillay and Gordhan on the charges listed in the summonses. As such I have directed the summonses to be withdrawn with immediate effect and they will thus no longer be any need for Magashula, Pillay and Gordhan to appear in court."

Abrahams also said that he will not be resigning. DA leader Mmusi Maimane says Parliament must investigate whether Abrahams is fit to hold office.

He called for Abrahams' suspension for his decision to withdraw fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Magashula and Pillay, just two days before they were set to appear in court.

"They must investigate whether he (Abrahams) is fit to hold office and I am asking for Parliament to in fact do its work. Secondly, we are saying (President) Jacob Zuma must suspend him until the inquiry is complete because it is clear that he is costing South Africa's credibility by making up charges," Maimanew said.

"If he was serious about these charges, he would obey the Gauteng North High Court ruling that all the charges that the DA has brought against Jacob Zuma, 738 charges; he must charge Jacob Zuma as well."

Meanwhile, the South African Rand surged about 2.5 per cent against the US dollar to its highest level in six weeks on news of the withdrawal of the charges against Gordhan.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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