The Rand has dropped to the lowest level in three weeks in the hours since the Daily Maverick broke the news that the Hawks are once again setting their sights on arresting Pravin Gordhan and four other South African Revenue Services (SARS) officials linked to the alleged SARS “rogue unit.” The five have been ordered to report at the Hawks in Pretoria at 10am on Thursday for warning statements. This issue has been simmering since Gordhan was reinstated as Minister of Finance in December last year, after the President fired then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, a move which derailed the SA economy for at least six months and has cost the country billions.
The “warning statement” is purportedly given to an accused person before they are charged with an offence and to warn them of their rights in terms of the Constitution.
This move is not wholly unexpected, after Gordhan replied to a list of 27 questions that the Hawks head Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza personally delivered to the Minister in February. He went on to urge South African’s to “protect the integrity of the treasury” in a public statement in May, outlining the immense pressure that he and his family were under with ongoing reports of his imminent arrest.
South African Rand / Dollar exchange rate (as of 9pm, Tuesday 23 August) - Graph: Bloomberg Terminal
“I cannot believe that I’m being investigated and could possibly be charged for something I am innocent of. Throughout my 45 years of activism, I have worked for the advancement of the ANC, our Constitution and our democratic government,” he said.
Gordhan has been the thorn in the side of many Zuma-linked individuals and projects including SAA's Dudu Myeni, current SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane as well as the Gupta family's interest in the country's nuclear deal, among countless other.
Gordhan’s co-accused are SARS officials:
- Former Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay
- Group Executive Johann van Loggerenberg
- Spokesperson Adrian Lackay
- Initial head of the investigative unit, Andries van Rensburg
Daily Maverick goes on to say “Pillay, Van Loggerenberg, Lackay and Van Rensburg have been informed by the Hawks that each of them face possible charges in relation as to how the unit was formed. Pillay will also be questioned in relation to his pension payout and Van Loggerenberg in relation to a charity he ran. In addition to it, Pillay will also face questions about the alleged “project Sunday Evenings” and Van Rensburg's (former head of the unit) involvement in allegedly bugging the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority in 2007 at the behest of the then Directorate of Special Operations, or the Scorpions, who were investigating police commissioner Jackie Selebi.”
Gordhan was SARS Commissioner when the unit was formed in 2007, and specified in the statement that the mandate was signed off with full knowledge of then Finance Minster Trevor Manuel and in agreement with the NIA (National Intelligence Agency.)