No decision to prosecute Gordhan - NPA

2016-05-15 14:03
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (Photo: GCIS)

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (Photo: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The National Prosecuting Authority has denied that it received a docket from the Hawks for a decision on whether to prosecute Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for his involvement in the SA Revenue Service's (Sars) so-called "rogue unit".

"As far as the so-called rogue unit matter is concerned, which is [being] investigated by the Hawks, our prosecutors are actually guiding that investigation," NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 on Sunday.

"That matter is still under investigation. No decision has been taken whether to prosecute or not."

This followed a report in the Sunday Times that the Hawks wanted Gordhan and eight others to be prosecuted for espionage, for spying on taxpayers during his time as Sars commissioner.

Sources at both the Hawks and NPA reportedly claimed that authorities were waiting for "political go-ahead" before going through with the arrest.

The Hawks on Sunday would not comment on the matter. Spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi referred questions to the presidency.

Presidency dismisses report

The presidency dismissed the report saying it was clearly the "work of dangerous information peddlers who wish to cause confusion and mayhem in the country".

"President Zuma and the whole of government are focused on the goal of reigniting economic growth, preserving existing jobs and creating more jobs through working together with business and labour," spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.

"A lot of progress is being made in this regard as was seen in the outcomes of the meeting convened by President Zuma last week.

In a separate statement, the presidency also condemned what it called "information peddlers who keep spreading rumours" about an alleged Cabinet reshuffle.

Ngqulunga reiterated that ministers served at the pleasure of the president and he had the prerogative to hire and fire them at any time.

"Despite that, the presidency issued a statement recently communicating that there were no plans to change the minister of finance.  

"Information peddlers have also been spreading false rumours about changes in the department of trade and industry.  A statement was also issued recently rebutting the DTI rumours," he said.

Sars intelligence-gathering ‘not illegal’

Constitutional law expert Pierre De Vos took to Twitter saying the mere fact that there was a Hawks investigation into Gordhan was "bizarre".

He explained that the National Strategic Intelligence Act did not prohibit a government entity such as Sars from gathering intelligence, nor did it prohibit Sars from doing so covertly.

"It does confirm that the covert gathering of 'departmental intelligence' (in other words, intelligence relating to a potential threat to the national security and stability of South Africa) by Sars would be in breach of the act."

De Vos said it was unclear whether the "most outlandish" allegations levelled against the unit contained any suggestion that it investigated potential threats to national security in contravention of the provisions of the act.

"In the absence of credible allegations to this effect, the claims that the so-called 'rogue spy unit' acted in contravention of the National Strategic Intelligence Act would be a legal nonsense," he said.

Read more on:    npa  |  sars  |  hawks  |  pravin gordhan

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