Pravin Gordhan back in Hawks crosshairs

Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan

Investigators in the so-called rogue unit at the SA Revenue Service allegedly briefed former police minister Fikile Mbalula, saying they had a strong case that may lead to the arrest of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

City Press has learnt that a team led by Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, the head of the Hawks’ crimes against the state unit, briefed Mbalula and handed him an information note.

The note detailed the progress and highlighted further developments that confessions from agents who were part of the unit had been received.

A highly placed source within the ANC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told City Press that it appeared that “Pravin was alerted to this as Pravin raised the matter at a national executive committee meeting in February this year, where he suggested there appears to be a hit list targeting the ANC president’s faction in the ANC”.

However, Mbalula could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

According to the source, Gordhan was told that there was no hit list, and the law enforcement agencies should be allowed to do their work without political interference.

Gordhan’s office denied having spoken about the hit list.

According to the source within the security cluster, “there’s new evidence. Pravin is not a target for now, but eventually he will have to answer as to why he authorised the establishment of a spying ‘intelligence’ unit. What is also different now is that [former president Jacob] Zuma is gone. So suspects can’t use the Zuma name as cover. They must only confront the charges and answer to them.”

According to the source, the “evidence is extremely strong. Prosecutors wanted a slam dunk case or [they will not] go to court. They have a slam dunk case.”

However, City Press has learnt that some of the new evidence comes from a highly compromised former Sars employee who was previously arrested for rhino poaching and who was dismissed from Sars.

According to sources close to Gordhan, the new witness blackmailed Sars into paying him an annual salary, failing which he would expose several alleged wrongdoings at Sars.

“They have confessed in front of a magistrate,” said one security cluster source familiar with the briefing.

According to a “secret” information note sent by the Hawks to then state security minister David Mahlobo on January 20 2016, former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi had expressed misgivings about the unit’s establishment in February 2007, when Gordhan approved it and then finance minister Trevor Manuel signed it off.

In the note, it states that Moleketi wrote on Gordhan’s application: “Supported – however, this is a strange way of executing what I consider to be an economic mandate of the NIA [National Intelligence Agency]. It seems as though it is an add-on rather than part of the NIA’s mandate.”

Moleketi previously confirmed to City Press that he was approached to provide a statement to the Hawks.

“I was approached and I submitted a statement through my lawyers,” he said.

On Friday, the Hawks served summons on Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg to appear in court in Pretoria on April 9.

In a statement issued on their behalf, Werksmans Attorneys director Bernard Hotz said: “The charges for which they have been summonsed relate to investigations/documentary reviews that were conducted by KPMG on the instruction of the SA Revenue Service since 2014. At the outset, it must be noted that the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] had charged Mr Pillay in October 2016 on aspects from the same KPMG report.”

The NPA was later compelled to withdraw these charges as important exculpatory evidence – that was either withheld, hidden or not considered – was publicly disclosed when the NPA’s decision to prosecute Pillay and others, including Gordhan, was challenged by Freedom Under Law.

Hotz said the KPMG report had since been thoroughly discredited and KPMG itself had withdrawn the conclusions, findings and recommendations.

KPMG and its auditors are now the subject of investigations by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants.

The Werksmans statement continued: “Secondly, these charges arise from the same case ... for which Messrs Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were summoned for warning statements in September 2016 by the DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation]. The complainant ... is the SA Revenue Service commissioner, Mr Tom Moyane.”

Hotz added that at no point during the process of taking their warning statements were Pillay and Van Loggerenberg questioned on any allegations or facts that speak to the latest charges.

“On the contrary, they offered to make representations to the DPCI and the NPA, which were ignored. The process of concluding the warning statements at that time was not perfected because the docket was handed over to the NPA by the DPCI before Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were given a chance to be heard. Pillay and Van Loggerenberg are disappointed but not surprised by the latest behaviour of the NPA in this matter, as they have consistently demonstrated clear bias and malice, which appear to have been driven by the concerns of Moyane,” he said.

Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Janse van Rensburg emphatically deny the allegations against them and will rely on the integrity of the judicial process, which they are confident will vindicate them.

Van Loggerenberg, Pillay and Janse van Rensburg will be writing to the NPA to seek an opportunity to make representations.

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