The Sunday Times has reported that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams has appointed a team of prosecutors to look into so-called state capture crimes allegedly committed by the Guptas.
Public outcry over Abrahams’ apparent silence and complete lack of action against the Guptas’ undue influence over the state and the financial rewards that come with it has grown steadily.
There has been a mountain of growing evidence against the family, much of it contained the leaked Gupta emails.
The police’s elite investigating unit the Hawks have also been criticised after they said they would be investigating the leaked emails – but only to work out where they came from.
The paper reports that the new unit’s supervisor will be Advocate Malini Govender, the acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) specialised commercial crimes unit.
The NPA’s prosecutors have reportedly been told to help the Hawks “fast-track investigations”.
However, it appears from NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku, that the unit – and the Hawks – will be focusing primarily on former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, which clearly only scratched the surface of the Guptas’ dealings and was published before the leaked emails came to light.
In the absence of a public commission of inquiry – which continues to be frustrated and delayed by a legal challenge from President Jacob Zuma – to examine the case against the Guptas, it’s unclear how much the NPA will be allowed to investigate.
Mfaku said that criticism of the NPA’s perceived silence on state capture was, however, unfair as the law “limited” the NPA’s role and it was up to the police to gather evidence.
However, NPA sources told the Sunday Times they were increasingly frustrated by the “tardiness and sloppiness” of the Hawks, who appeared incapable of “simple things like tracking people down”.
Mfaku said the NPA could provide support and assistance to the Hawks to guide their investigations.
For their part, the Hawks’ Hangwani Mulaudzi, said fraud and corruption cases took a long time.
Abrahams has, from the outset of his term, been criticised as being a “President Jacob Zuma man”.
This is a label he has struggled to shake off after he relentlessly and fruitlessly pursued the then finance minister, Pravin Gordhan (subsequently fired by Gordhan) and has even more stubbornly avoided pursuing the corruption case against President Zuma – despite the NPA’s appeal against the reinstatement of 783 charges of corruption against the president proving to be a lost cause.
As a result, Abrahams has popularly become known as “Shaun the Sheep”.