Advocate Shaun Abrams, the South African Senior Counsel who was the Lead Prosecutor in the high profile treason and murder case involving inter alia, Minister of Development Planning and former army chief Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, has been called off the matter.
This came after Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane called both Abrams and the Director for Public Prosecution Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, into the witness box to explain the issue of the appointment of the lead prosecutor in the case.
Motinyane said she appointed advocate Hopolang Nathane KC to apply for postponement of the case last Monday which was denied, causing Sakoane to send Nathane and Advocate Nnaki Nku to ask for further instructions on who is to lead, however, Nku returned with advocate Mosenete Rafoneke to proceed with the matter as she was not feeling well after being directed to takeover Abramsâ€™ role.
In his ruling after quizzing the two advocates, Sakoane said Motinynae had escaped a M5000 fine by a whisker because Nathane KC withdrew his application for postponement and that there is no space for Abrams to lead. The prosecution team is now being marshaled by Nku and Rafoneke.
â€˜This matter was set to proceed last week but on January 10 Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) briefed Nathane to prosecute the matter on the understanding that Shaun Abrams will not be available for two weeks.
â€œWhen Nathane appeared he said he is merely going to apply for postponement to further debate the matter. I invited advocate Nku who has been on the case since 2018 and she said she has not been briefed.
â€œI adjourned the proceedings directing the crown to consult with DPP for directions or I dismiss the case. Nku returned with new directives that she must now take lead in the matter.
â€œWe did this after advocate Teele sought to apply for motion to quash the case. Regrettably we could not proceed because I was informed that one counsel (Napo Mafaesa) was tortured by the police and another, Molati Letuka is in hiding. In the circumstances the court was forced to postpone to today and Abrams appeared to inform the court that he is going to lead the prosecution.
â€œI got the clear indication that application for postponement won on January 10 was not made in good faith. DPP informed the court that Abrams is not available at all hence the relieves in the application for postponement in an application filed on January 10.
â€œThis caused me to conduct an interview of both DPP and Abrams in terms of section 12 (4) (b). The gist of enquiry was to determine that the court was misled so that I sanction whoever misled the court,â€ he said.
He said after he heard DPP and Abrams under oath, on the basis of their testimony, he had no doubt that the DPP in her affidavit didnâ€™t take the court in her confidence when she made application for postponement and has no doubt that Abrams who informed him that the application came to his attention this morning.
â€œWhat is alarming is that DPP told Abrams to continue when she has directed another to continue without according this court the courtesy of explanation.
â€œAlthough DPP misled this court, she escaped by the skin of her teeth from the fine of M5000 coming from her pocket. The reason is that Nathane withdrew his application and Nku was immediately appointed. â€œI do not see any space for Abrams to lead, therefore Abramsâ€™ appearance to prosecute is rejected, there will be no costs,â€ he said.