Damning new evidence and SARS ‘hostage’ drama: Gordhan fraud case starts to unravel

An explosive report by the Daily Maverick has presented new evidence showing that the NPA’s cause of fraud against finance minister Pravin Gordhan is a desperate political play, cooked up on poor research and the intimidation of SARS officials.

According to the report, an application by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) has revealed a new twist in the NPA vs Gordhan saga, where the prosecuting authority failed to take obvious evidence into consideration – and a SARS legal official was held hostage in a bid to intimidate him into relinquishing damning evidence.

The drama revolves around SARS deputy director of law administration, Vlok Symington, who, in 2009, supplied a written legal opinion on the early retirement of former deputy SARS commissioner, Ivan Pillay.

This significant piece of evidence is the silver bullet in the entire case, showing that Gordhan, Pillay and former commissioner Oupa Magashula, were acting in good faith, on legal advice, when approving Pillay’s early retirement – effectively shattering any hope the NPA could prove ‘intent’ to commit fraud.

This crucial evidence was supplied in the HSF and FUL court application to have the charges dropped, and was also given to NPA head, Shaun Abrahams ahead of the formal application – which led to an unsettling turn of events.

The NPA contacted the Hawks regarding the memo, which in turn contacted SARS looking for Symington to answer questions in affidavit form. SARS head, Tom Moyane, also sought legal input from SARS’ legal representatives.

Along the line of correspondence, Symington was forwarded the correspondence trail, including a damning comment from the SARS lawyers saying that would not get involved due to “ethical reasons”, effectively disagreeing with the case against the former officials.

It was there that events unravelled, as can be read in detail on the Daily Maverick and the Mail & Guardian.

The events ended up with an apparent hostage situation, where Symington was held against his will by Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, the Hawks’ lead investigator in the case against Gordhan, and Moyane’s personal security guard, demanding that Symington hand over documents with the legal comment meant for Moyane.

After hours of being held against his will, ultimately the documents were taken from Symington by force, the reports said.

According to the HSF and FUL, the situation shows a desperate attempt by the NPA and the Hawks to prop up their case against Gordhan, and shows the lengths they will go to, to move ahead with prosecution.

Symington, meanwhile, has reportedly opened up a case of kidnapping, intimidation, assault, robbery and theft at the Brooklyn charge office, the Daily Maverick said.

You can read the full, detailed account on the Daily Maverick.

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