Corruption Watch (CW) welcomes the judgment handed down today by Judge Dunstan Mlambo in the Pretoria High Court, regarding the position of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP). This arises out of an application by CW, together with Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), to review and set aside the R17.3-million settlement agreement between former NDPP Adv Mxolisi Nxasana, the president, and the minister of justice, thereby declaring his removal from office invalid.
Today’s judgment has decided that the settlement agreement that led to the removal of Nxasana was indeed unlawful and that the termination of Nxasana’s appointment was invalid and set aside. Furthermore, it confirmed that the subsequent appointment of Adv Shaun Abrahams as head of the NPA was also invalid and therefore set aside. In addition, the court found for CW in deciding that, arising out of his manifest conflicts of interest, the president may not appoint, suspend or remove the NDPP. Accordingly, the court has decided that the appointment to the now vacant post of NDPP is the responsibility of the deputy president. The court has also ruled unconstitutional those sections of the NPA Act that allowed these unlawful decisions to be made.
The organisation regards this judgment as essential to strengthening our constitutional architecture, and ensuring that key actors within our criminal justice system act without fear, favour or prejudice in the execution of their duties.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis, commented: “We have long held that the state of the National Prosecuting Authority and its leadership in particular is a major impediment to combating corruption. The president has appointed to this position a series of leaders on the basis of their loyalty to him rather than their independence and integrity. And, in the case of Mr Nxasana, the president secured the removal from office of an NDPP precisely because he demonstrated the requisite independence and integrity. We hope that this represents the beginning of a process that will restore the NPA to its rightful place in the fight against corruption.”
The court has ordered Mr Nxasana to repay to the state the money he received in terms of the settlement agreement. The court also decided that the president, the minister of justice, Adv Abrahams and the NPA are jointly liable for the costs of this application.
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