South Africa’s top court has ruled that the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Shaun Abrahams, was not validly appointed and was a beneficiary of former President Jacob Zuma’s abuse of power.
Mr Abrahams was appointed in 2015 after his predecessor Mxolisi Nxasana was given 17.3m rand ($1.1m) as a “golden handshake” by Mr Zuma’s government.
However, Mr Nxasana later went to court claiming he had been forced out of his position because Mr Zuma was convinced that he intended to prosecute him for corruption.
Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga, reading a majority opinion, ruled that Mr Zuma had unlawfully retired Mr Nxasana, and therefore his subsequent appointment of Mr Abrahams was invalid.
The court rejected Mr Nxasana’s appeal to get his former job back and ordered him to return the $1.1m “golden handshake” to the government.
Mr Abrahams, was seen by Mr Zuma’s critics as his lackey, and was nicknamed Shaun the sheep.
The court gave President Cyril Ramaphosa, who forced Mr Zuma out of office in February, 90 days to appoint a new NPA head.
When he become president, Mr Ramaphosa had said that “leadership issues” at the National Prosecuting Authority was one of his key concerns.