#StateCaptureInquiry: Ntlemeza was central to state capture project – Gordhan

2018-11-20 18:06

Former Hawks boss Major General Berning Ntlemeza was central to the state capture project, the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture heard on Tuesday.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan spent the second day of his testimony sharing how he was a target of an orchestrated campaign.    

Gordhan told the commission that before his budget speech in February 2016 an envelope was hand-delivered to National Treasury at Ntlemeza's insistence.

The envelope contained 27 questions addressed to him from the Hawks, demanding that they be answered.

READ: #StateCaptureInquiry: 'I have nothing to fear' - Gordhan

He said the questions related to the high-risk investigations unit within South African Revenue Service (SARS) from years before and charges against him relating to that unit, which had been filed by former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane in May 2015.

Gordhan said he agreed to meet with former president Jacob Zuma to show him the correspondence between himself and the Hawks as well as the questions he had been sent. He said he asked Zuma whether he was aware of the Hawks' action against him and whether he agreed with it.

But, he said the former president flipped through the pages and said he would speak to minister of police, at the time Nathi Nhleko.

Distraction tactics

Gordhan said he received no information from the former president in this regard.

He also told the commission that there was a series of events that were part of a campaign to force him to resign so the capture of the National Treasury could continue.

Advocate Paul Pretorius, who heads the inquiry's legal team, asked Gordhan about how those questions from the Hawks were leaked to the media the day after the budget speech, and what it suggested to him.

He said the tactics were to "distract" him from his duty, adding that he was angry about the intimidation and harassment going on.

"Throughout the period between February and about October/November, the one narrative that I would hear was that, 'This is all about forcing you to resign' and comrades within the ANC and colleagues within Cabinet and people outside, within civil society and the South African Communist Party (SACP) and so on, would say 'Don't resign. You have a job to do, do your job. And if he doesn't want you there, then he must fire you'." 

Gordhan added that there was clearly some "orchestration" going on and questioned the motives behind the formulation and leaking of the questions. 

"I was angry, particularly because of the importance of the budget speech and budget day for the country as a whole. Now who wants to be disrupted the week before, when we finalise the documents and speech? What mindset informs the delivery? Expecting I would resign while delivering the speech? [I] never quite understood," he said. 

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