Report has it that the Hawks reportedly withheld crucial information from state prosecutors that would have prevented fraud charges being laid against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The confession proved that the controversial fraud charges against the finance minister – which almost had him removed as the state finance minister – were without legal foundation and baseless.
This is according to Mail & Guardian which reported on Friday that a confession by a member of the elite priority crime-fighting unit to a senior SA revenue service (Sars) employee could prove the Hawks were intent on indicting the minister and former Sars officials Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashule despite having no evidence against them.
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This confession came to light in October when Vlok Symington was allegedly held by the Hawks against his will. Then, the Hawks member allegedly confessed to have had a memo authored by Symington exonerating Gordhan “from the outset” of their investigation.
The document has in it, a legal advice from Symington to Gordhan -who was not Sars commissioner at the time- approving the payment of the penalty for then former deputy commissioner Pillay’s early retirement and reemployment as a consultant on a contract basis.
Symington intended submitting an affidavit with police watchdog organisation, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), giving them details on the exchanges between him and members of the unit during the “hostage” drama.
The video footage of the incident speaks a lot about what transpired between Symington and four Hawks officials, including the bodyguard of the tax collection agency’s commissioner, Tom Moyane.
Among the unit’s members was Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, who was the lead investigator in the case against the former Sars officials.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) chief, Shaun Abrahams suddenly announced NPA’s withdrawal of fraud charges against Minister Pravin Gordhan after it was rumored that the prosecution chief was used as a tool to have the minister out.
Abrahams withdrew the charges against Gordhan and his co-accused, citing the 2009 memorandum that showed there were no reasons why Pillay could not retire early and be reappointed.
In a dramatic twist to the botched prosecution, on Monday it emerged in a court paper filed by Abrahams in the Pretoria High Court that head of the Hawks Lieutenant-General Mthandazo “Berning” Ntlemeza had accused him of caving to public pressure by withdrawing the charges.
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In a series of damning letters showing a heated exchange between the two, Ntlemeza also accused the chief prosecutor of acting in bad faith.
As it is, Abrahams still faces legal action mounted by civil society organisations Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation to have him suspended by President Jacob Zuma pending an inquiry into his fitness to hold office. The case is expected to be heard next week by a full bench of the court.