South Africa’s Investigative unit and the finance minister’s legal team have confirmed that finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will no longer be arrested by the hawks.
In a letter released on this issue, the team made it clear that Gordhan is not a suspect in its investigation of a so-called South African Revenue Services (SARS) rogue unit.
This follows a report by the Sunday Times which claimed that the Hawks had called for Gordhan and eight others to be charged with espionage for allegedly spying on taxpayers during his reign as SARS commissioner.
Gordhan’s probe by the Hawks raised lots of dust especially as it was seen by most South Africans as a ploy by the ruling party to remove the finance minister from office.
Confirming the termination of his arrest, the Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza said there should be no reason for the minister to be concerned.
“He is not a suspect,” Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told Reuters, adding that the unit was not singling out Gordhan in its investigation of the surveillance unit
Gordhan has been in a public feud with the unit since his appointment in December over a special investigating agency established at SARS while he was tax commissioner. But reacting to people’s concern over the issue, the National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams asked South Africans to “stop deriving political mileage of this matter” .
Finance Minister Gordhan had earlier announced his innocence over the case saying the reports of his imminent arrest amounts to “intimidation and harassment” by law enforcement agencies and are being manufactured for ulterior motives.
Gordhan’s speech concerning his arrest sends a message that he sees the threat of arrest as a genuine one which poses a danger not just to himself but to the Treasury in general. It also ups the ante in his battle with President Jacob Zuma over control of the Treasury and with whom he has been engaged in a covert power struggle since his re-appointment in December.
He said: “It is indeed true that no one is above the law. But no one should be subjected to the manipulation of the law and agencies for ulterior motives”
“I would never have thought that individuals within the very agencies of this government would now conspire to intimidate and harass me and my family.”
The Hawks is investigating a surveillance unit within the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Mulaudzi said. Gordhan headed the SARS between 1999 to 2009.