Francis Antonie of the HSF is certain that the NPA has absolutely no reason to charge the finance minister Gordhan for fraud.
Gordhan Pravin’s battle with the Hawks may soon be over as the legal body seems to have found no incriminating evidence against him.
For weeks, the National Prosecuting Authorities have been agitating over Gordhan’s refusal to submit to being probed for embezzlement allegations during his time as SARS Chief.
According to the NPA, Gordhan and 3 other people will face probe. They include 2 former SARS Commissioners – Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula – and Johan van Loggerenberg, a high risk investigations unit head. The 4 men are being charged for corruption, fraud and illegal spying.
A couple of days ago, it appeared that the NPA were still sourcing for possible incriminating evidence against SA’s finance minister, who is due to appear in court on the 2nd of November.
On that note, Francis Antonie, Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) director has slammed the NPA, saying that gathering of evidence at this stage is a proof of the “unlawfulness of its decision” to probe Gordhan in the first place.
“The timing suggests a desperate, eleventh-hour attempt to prop up a prosecution that, clearly, was hopeless from the start. This is information the NPA should have gathered long before any decision to prosecute was made, and the NPA’s failure to do so underlines the irrationality and unlawfulness of its decision. This is especially so given that the information is likely to be exculpatory.”
The NPA is investigating the approval of 3 000 applications for early retirement to the GEPF from various government employees who retired before they turned 60 by finance ministers between 2008 and 2010.
Gordhan is charged with fraud for approving the payment of an early pension to the former deputy commissioner of Sars, Ivan Pillay.
Just like many South Africans, Francis Antonie again detects an ulterior motive in the call to probe Gordhan. According to them, early retirement is a common practice that is approved for government employees.
“Clearly, any evidence which spoke to the practices and lawfulness of early retirement of public servant with full pension had to be fully investigated and considered before charging (Gordhan).”