Leadership Profiles


Advocate Shaun Kevin Abrahams has been appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) on 18 June 2015.

Before this appointment, he was an Advocate in the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU), Office of the NDPP. Until 31 July 2014, he held the position of Acting Special Director of Public Prosecutions, Head: PCLU, having been appointed by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of section 13(3) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act 32 of 1998, a position he held for a period of 17 months, during which he served as a member of the senior management and/or leadership of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The PCLU excelled under his leadership, achieving its best results since its creation by a Presidential Proclamation in March 2003. 

His duties, inter alia, included assisting, supporting, advising and rendering tactical, strategic and legal advice to the NDPP and Deputy NDPP: National Specialised Services Division (NSSD). As Head of the PCLU, he managed and directed the investigation and prosecution of crimes as contemplated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act, the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, the Nuclear Energy Act, the National Conventional Arms Control Act, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, Intelligence laws, the Protection of Information Act, crimes emanating from the Truth and Reconciliation process, serious national and international crimes as defined in the Presidential Mandate and matters as referred by the NDPP. He was also responsible for the Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT), whose mandate is to trace the remains of persons who disappeared during the period covered by the TRC.

He holds the degrees Baccalaureus Iuris (B Iuris), Baccalaureus Procurationis (B Proc) and Bachelor of laws (LLB), which I read part-time at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Although he was admitted as an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa in the Natal Provincial Division on 11 March 2002, he was first issued a delegation to prosecute in February 1997 by the Attorney-General of Natal, Tim McNally SC. In effect, he has approximately seventeen (17) years relevant experience in the law.

He is a career prosecutor, having started his career with the Department of Justice in 1994 as an Administration Clerk and climbed through the ranks in other positions in the Department and in the NPA. In this regard, he has also held the positions of Senior Administration Clerk, Assistant Administration Officer, Prosecutor, Control Prosecutor, State Advocate and Senior State Advocate.

He has prosecuted in numerous high profile cases over the years and have rendered technical legal advice in others. These, inter alia, include:

  • S v Henry Okah – The prosecution of a Nigerian militant leader on terrorism charges. [S v Okah, SS94/2011) [2013] ZAGPJHC 6 (21 January 2013) (Reportable)] and [S v Okah SS94/2011 [2013] ZAGPJHC 85 (20 March 2013) (Reportable)]
  • S v Kiratzidis & 2 Others – Right-wing extremist who conspired to engage in terrorist acts against black ANC members in Phalaborwa.
  • S v Trollip & Others – Right-wing extremist who conspired to attack the leadership of the ANC at the Mangaung Elective Conference in December 2012. [Keevy v S (A66/2013) [2013] ZAFSHC 53 (2 April 2013) (Reportable)] and [Prisnloo v S (A40/2013) [2013] ZAFSHC 54 (18 April 2013) (Reportable)]
  • S v Kazongo & 19 Others – DRC nationals who attempted to recruit mercenaries in South Africa for a coup in the DRC.
  • S v Uriwani & 5 Others (Rwandan matter) – Foreign nationals who attempted to assassinate former Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa.
  • The Murder of Patrick Karageya – The former head of Rwandan Intelligence who was murdered in his hotel room in Sandton on 31 December 2013.
  • S v Geiges & Wisser – International Nuclear proliferation. [S v Geiges and Others M & G Media Ltd and Others intervening) 2007 (2) SACR 507 (T)]
  • Minister of Safety and Security and Others v Mohamed and Another – lawfulness of a search and seizure warrant executed at the residence of an Islamic extremist on terrorism matter.[Minister of Safety and Security and Others v Mohamed and Another (2012 (1) SACR 321 (SCA)]
  • S v Eugene Terre’Blanche (AWB Leader) – Terrorism and sabotage committed prior to the 1994 democratic elections.
  • S v Andre Visagie – The prosecution of former AWB Secretary-General on unlawful possession of self-made arms and a large quantity of ammunition.
  • Muslim Lawyers Association v the Minister of Police and Others – Request to arrest and investigate US President, Barack Obama.
  • National Commissioner of SAPS v SALC (Zimbabwean matter) – request to investigate high profile Zimbabwean officials on charges of crimes against humanity.
  • Singh v Minister of Justice and Another – Mandamus for a nolle prosequi certificate by a Magistrate to privately prosecute senior NPA officials. [2009 (1) SACR 87 (N)]
  • NIA Leaked document – A senior State Security operative who leaked a highly classified sensitive operational document to the media
  • Equatorial Guinea Coup plot – Mercenary activities involving a number of high profile individuals
  • S v Chauke (Highwayman) – Serial murderer and rapists
  • Kalahari Resources Matter [Majali v S (41210/2010) [2011] ZAGPJHC (19 July 2011) (Reportable)]
  • Murder of NUM Chairman – successfully prosecuted the assassination of the Chairman of the National Union of Mines in 2004

In some of the above matters and in others, he transferred forensic legal skills and experience to colleagues within the NPA, those in the private sector and to other stakeholders, embracing equity and transformation.

He has an incredible work ethic, having consistently received meritorious awards for his outstanding professional performances almost annually from 2000 to date. The former Head: PCLU, Anton Ackermann SC, described him as having consistently been the most outstanding prosecutor in his office. During 2012/2013 he was recognised as the Best Specialist Prosecutor and also received and award for Excellence in Prosecution of Crimes that Impact on the Security of the Republic.  

Due to his experience, integrity and ability, he has over the years regularly been tasked by various NDPPs and/or Acting NDPPs with extremely sensitive and complex matters and has proven to have sound knowledge of the law, having written many challenging opinions confirming his ability to easily assimilate facts and apply them to the law.

He is in good standing in the legal profession as a whole, well respected by his peers within the entire legal fraternity, by Judges and magistrates alike.

As a senior officer of the court, he has been seen to be a person of integrity in his role as an administrator of justice. In this regard he has been seen to administer justice impartially and independently, acting in the interest of the community, domestically and internationally. He has at all times executed his duties without fear, favour or prejudice and has always presented himself in a fair and transparent manner, applying the law to any given situation with due cognisance of the administration of justice and the Constitution, upholding human dignity and fundamental rights. He has at all times upheld the values, ethos and responsibilities of the office with which he has been entrusted.

He has come to be extremely knowledgeable on international cooperation in criminal matters, having formally and informally rendered assistance to various countries and written numerous legal opinions on this topic. He has also sought formal and informal assistance from foreign States in numerous matters.

He has considerable experience on terrorist, terror financing and related matters and has been accredited to having successfully prosecuted the only 2 terrorism related matters in contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism and related Activities Act, No 33 of 2004, one of which was a historical extra-territorial prosecution expounded on the international principle aut dedere aut judicare (extradite or prosecute) [S v Henry Okah]. The Institute of Security Studies (ISS) described this prosecution as a victory for Africa in the fight against terror.  He has represented the NPA on an Inter-Departmental Counter-Terrorism Working Group where he played leading roles as a local expert on, inter alia, legal issues, international cooperation, extraditions, money laundering, terror financing, freezing orders and confiscatory provisions during the United Nation’s (UN) Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate’s (CTED) visit to South Africa during 2008 and later, the UN’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) visit.

He has since received numerous other invitations internationally to present papers on the challenges faced by States in cooperating in terrorism matters. In March 2014, he was elected by the Executive of the Africa Prosecutors Association (APA) as the lead drafter of a Counter-Terrorism Training Manual for prosecutors on the African continent. The draft manual, crafted jointly with the ISS, was timeously completed within the very pressing timeframe, having been launched at the APA’s Annual Conference in the Côte d'Ivoire during October 2014.

He also has extensive experience in crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, having presented a paper at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR), representing the South African Government at a Forum between Offices of the Prosecutors of UN ad Hoc Tribunals and National Prosecuting Forums, tiled “Challenges of cooperation in Africa: A South African Perspective”.  He has also presented papers at training workshops hosted by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) on International Criminal law.

He holds a Top Security Clearance, which expires on 31 August 2018.

He regularly provides technical legal assistance and strategic advice to stakeholders in both the execution of the PCLU’s and the NPA’s mandate.

He has been described by a well-respected and senior Judge as, inter alia, exceptionally competent, hard-working, very proficient in forensic skills and a masterful crossexaminer. In supporting my application for Senior Consultus (SC) status, the same judge remarked that his “experience, integrity, honesty, leadership, character, conscientiousness and general demeanour are all consummate with the high status of SC”…and that he “will be a valued and respected member of that status, able to give good guidance and leadership to those that follow in his footsteps.”

In this regard, he has the support and/or recommendation of senior judges and numerous SC’s for the conferral of SC status.