Hawks tight-lipped on Gordhan arrest report

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File: Pravin Gordhan was reportedly informed that he would receive a warning statement given to an accused person before they are charged with an offence and to warn them of their rights in terms of the Constitution.

JOHANNESBURG - The specialised Directorate Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), better known as the Hawks, on Tuesday kept mum on a report that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and four SA Revenue Services (SARS) officials were ordered to report to their offices for warning statements.

When called regarding the report, Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “We are not commenting on that report”.

The Daily Maverick on Tuesday reported that the Hawks have ordered Gordhan as well as former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, group executive Johann van Loggerenberg, spokesperson Adrian Lackay and initial head of the investigative unit, Andries van Rensburg, to report to the Hawks in Pretoria on Thursday at 10am.

According to the report, the threats of criminal action relate to allegations of an alleged “rogue unit” located in SARS. Pillay, Van Loggernberg, Lackay and Van Rensburg received letters informing them of the charges they will face, according to the report.

Gordhan was reportedly informed that he would receive a “warning statement” given to an accused person before they are charged with an offence and to warn them of their rights in terms of the Constitution.

The Daily Maverick reported that Mulaudzi said he did not have a “mandate to discuss any case or any confidential information attached to any case that is still under investigation. Any matters related to this enquiry is mere speculation and we will also not comment on it”.

The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday, said the report was a “major escalation” in what the party called the “SARS Wars”.

“The fact that the minister has reportedly been requested to appear before the Hawks suggests he may be informed about possible charges and may face arrest in connection with allegations relating to the SARS ‘rogue unit’,” DA spokesman David Maynier said.

“The arrest of the finance minister would shatter investor confidence, risk a sovereign ratings downgrade and be a disaster for the already fragile zero growth, zero jobs economy in South Africa.

"The only option to get to the bottom of the allegations relating to the SARS ‘rogue unit’ is the appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution.”

READ: Arrest threats upset Gordhan

In May, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams said that there were no charges of espionage that were being investigated against Gordhan.

“I wish to make the following emphatically clear. There are no charges of espionage being investigated against Minister Gordhan. There are no charges of espionage being investigated against any other person associated with what has been dubbed the so-called SARS rogue unit,” Abrahams said at the time.

“Although the special director of public prosecutions who heads the priority crime investigation unit would ordinarily make his decision in consultation with the director of public prosecutions on whether or not to prosecute, in this matter the special director concerned will make a recommendation to me on whether or not any person should be prosecuted.”

Abrahams added: “In the event that the minister is implicated, I will make the decision at the conclusion of the investigation as to whether any person or persons must be prosecuted, including the minister”.

He said the Hawks was not obliged to disclose to anyone who their suspects were and the nature of the crimes they were probing.

Media reports in May suggested that Gordhan faced imminent arrest and prosecution on espionage charges relating to the activities of the SA Revenue Services’ so-called “Rogue Unit”. The unit was established while Gordhan was the commissioner of the tax agency. The reports had an adverse impact on the market, plunging the struggling rand into turmoil.

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