Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s attorney, Gildenhuys Malatji, released a statement on Thursday morning in an effort to break the perception that the minister had not co-operated with the Hawks and was acting as if he was above the law.
“Nothing can be further from the truth,” the statement said.
Gordhan, they said, had responded fully to all the Hawks’ enquiries, offered to provide any further assistance they might require and had scrupulously acted in accordance with the law.
The lawyer then set out what had happened so far in the saga since the Hawks asked Gordhan to answer 27 questions on February 19 this year. The minister “fully and comprehensively answered them” on March 30, “despite the fact that he was not obliged to do so”.
He said, in paragraph three of his answer, that: “I wish to co-operate fully with any investigation of the Hawks into the activities of Sars. I have decided to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a spirit of full co-operation.”
Malatji said that in May the media had reported that the Hawks were investigating charges against the Gordhan. He said they had asked the Hawks if this was true.
Malatji said Hawks boss General Berning Ntlemeza had denied it in a letter dated May 20, 2016, which said, “the questions posed to the Minister were in relation to the investigation that is conducted by the Hawks into the activities of the Sars unit and the Minister is not a suspect in that investigation”.
He said that, despite Ntlemeza’s assurance, they received a letter from the Hawks on August 22, calling on Gordhanto come to their offices on August 25 to make a “warning statement” about two matters: the establishment of the Sars investigating unit and the early retirement and re-appointment of the Deputy Commissioner of Sars, Ivan Pillay.
“Shortly after we received the letter, it was released to the media and created much speculation that the Minister was about to be arrested.”