Abrahams insists 'rogue unit' execs' warning statements were obtained

Cape Town – National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams insists that warning statements were obtained from three ex-South African Revenue Service (SARS) executives, who allegedly played a role in the so-called "rogue unit".

The three executives, who were summonsed on Friday to appear in court on charges of corruption and the contravention of the RICA Act, have questioned why warning statements were not obtained from them.

The legal representatives of Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg wrote a letter to Abrahams to ask that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw the summonses issued to their clients.

READ: Ex-SARS 'rogue unit' execs want summonses withdrawn

They asked to be given an opportunity to submit representations to the NPA for consideration.

In the letter, which is dated March 12, they also questioned why warning statements had not been obtained prior to the NPA's decision to prosecute, which they said was a procedural prerequisite.

They also asked why prosecutors had not insisted on obtaining the statements and wanted to know if the NPA and the NDPP were aware that they hadn't done so.

They have been summonsed to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on April 9.

Addressing the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday evening, Abrahams said there was a perception that he was involved in the decision to prosecute the three. 

"I did not make a decision on that matter," he said, adding that the decision was made by the North Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions.

"I have been advised that warning statements were obtained," he added. However, Abrahams said he did not know by whom or when.

'Rogue unit' findings retracted

DA MP Tim Brauteseth said despite KPMG apologising and retracting the findings and recommendations of the report, which the charges are based on, the NPA still wants to proceed.

He then referred to the Werksmans Attorneys letter, which stated that their warning statements have not been taken.

"Somebody is lying here," Brauteseth said. "Or you have been lied to."

He reminded Abrahams that he was speaking in Parliament.

Abrahams explained that when the Werksmans letter was submitted to him, he forwarded it to the head of prosecuting services, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi.

"I was advised that warning statements had been obtained. I'm really not in a position to say when it was obtained, and by whom it was obtained."

Abrahams described the matter as "live", adding: "I cannot go further into the matter."

The Hawks have been investigating the former SARS High Risk Investigation Unit, as well as former SARS commissioner Pravin Gordhan (currently Minister of Public Enterprises), for allegedly taking part in illegal interceptions and spying.

The investigation has been fraught with allegations that it was being used as a political tool against Gordhan.

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