SA nears decision on finance minister’s assault case


South African prosecutors are nearing a decision on whether to press charges against Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, who has been accused of sexual assault.

The National Prosecuting Authority will hand a docket on its investigation into the allegations to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Monday, suggesting a decision on the case is imminent.

Godongwana was accused earlier this month of sexual harassment by an employee at the Kruger National Park who was offering massage services to guests in their rooms. The minister’s office issued a statement last weekend denying the allegation, a stance that he reiterated to the police on August 18.

Once it’s received the docket, the ODPP will take a decision on whether to “prosecute or to obtain further instructions,” Monica Nyuswa, a spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority in the eastern Mpumalanga province, said by phone.

Godongwana, who has been finance minister since August 2021, previously said he’ll step down if charged, in compliance with the governing African National Congress’s so-called step-aside rule. That would mean the investor-friendly finance chief will no longer participate in policy making just two months before a key budget update to parliament. It would place pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose options to find a replacement finance minister within his executive are limited.

Once a docket is handed over to the ODPP, a decision on whether to proceed with the case “can be immediate or longer depending what is on hand,” NPA spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke said by phone.

“If everything is done and they have covered all the investigations that are required it is quick obviously, they will take a decision,” she said. “If a prosecutor looks at a file and considers that there is more investigation required then they give instruction back to the police to get further evidence until they are satisfied that they can make a decision for or against prosecution.”

Godongwana’s office wouldn’t speculate on whether the case will proceed.

“That is for the police and the national prosecuting authorities to decide and announce,” spokesman Mfuneko Toyana said in an emailed response to questions.

Selvy Mohlala, a spokesman for the South African Police Service, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone when Bloomberg sought comment.

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