Hawks intimidatory tactics like old Security Police: Gordhan

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says that a deadline imposed on him by the Hawks, to respond to questions on his role in setting up a spy unit at the South African Revenue Service, is not achievable.

This is according to a statement put out by the minister on Sunday, entitled: “Hawks harassment must stop in the interests of justice”.

The Sunday Independent newspaper had reported that Gordhan received a deadline of Monday to respond to questions relating to a so called “rogue unit” set up at Sars, under Gordhan’s charge.

According to Reuters, the Hawks are investigating the unit on suspicion of conducting illegal surveillance on taxpayers, while Gordhan has said he has no case to answer.

Gordhan said in his statement that a letter sent by his attorneys to the head of the police unit on 7 March 2016, indicates clearly that the deadline imposed ‘is not achievable given the roadshow I was undertaking’.

The minister embarked on an investor roadshow in London and the United States last week, as the country fends off junk status by major ratings agencies.

“Our immediate task – all of us – is to avoid a downgrade and find urgent ways of growing our economy and creating jobs,” the minister said.

“Once again the Hawks, and those who instruct them, have no regard for the economic and social welfare of millions,” Gordhan’s statement said.

The finance minister noted that he had missed a previous deadline to respond to 27 questions posed by the Hawks in early March.

Gordhan’s statement said:

“Over the past week, a Team SA delegation consisting of Government, Business and three Labour federations have been on an intense investor roadshow to address concerns of our bond investors and defend our fiscal strength.

“This is so that we can continue to borrow money we don’t have to spend on infrastructure and other projects. These investors and the ratings agencies are observing every development in South Africa with a keen eye.

“I am acting, with other loyal South Africans, in the best interests of all South Africans so that they may have a better and more prosperous future.”

The minister questioned why the Hawks were adopting ‘harassment and intimidatory tactics like the old Security Police did’.

He said that in his letter to the head of police, he indicated that there was a refusal by the Hawks to state, for the record, “the precise legislative provision in terms of which they are asking these questions”.

Gordhan said once the legal matters have been clarified, he will respond to the questions in accordance with the advice provided by his lawyers. “I am, like all South Africans, not above the law.”

The finance minister is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday.

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Hawks intimidatory tactics like old Security Police: Gordhan