Joint Press Statement: Withdrawal of charges against Minister Gordhan

Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation's reaction to the withdrawal of the charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula

Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation welcome the withdrawal of the criminal charges against Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula. We have, from the start, maintained that the charges were without any foundation whatsoever. No competent prosecutor, at any level of the prosecuting authority, would have brought them.

At the same time, we are profoundly disappointed that Mr Abrahams still does not understand the enormity of what the Hawks and his staff have done, and is still not frank with the public. This case has never been about the interpretation of some or other pension regulation; the charges were that our minister of finance and two former heads of SARS were crooks who had committed fraud or stolen over a million Rands of public money. Yet there never was proof of any intention to commit a crime.

The charges were obviously bad, both in law and on any plausible reading of the facts. At best, the charges were a colossal blunder. At worst, they were a ham-fisted attempt to loot the Treasury. Either way, history will not remember those responsible favourably, and they should be held to account.

While the harm to the reputations and personal dignity of three honourable men speaks for itself, the damage to our country, its financial standing and its international image is literally incalculable.  Sadly, Mr Abrahams shows no sign that he or his advisers have any conception of what they have done.