Gordhan misses Hawks' 27 questions deadline
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday informed the Hawks that he needs more time before responding to their questions regarding the alleged “rogue unit” at the SA Revenue Services (Sars).
They had given him until Wednesday to respond.
National Treasury sent media a legal letter that Gordhan’s lawyers, Gildenhuys Malatji, sent to the office of the national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, informing them of his intention to miss the deadline.
"He will respond in due course, once he has properly examined the questions and ascertained what information, of the information you request, he is able to provide," the letter states.
Importantly, Gordhan wants to know on what authority the Hawks have to ask him these questions.
“We request the following information to assist him in preparing his response: On what authority do you rely on directing these questions to the Honourable Minister? Are you investigating any offence? If so, what is it?”
Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said at a press conference on Wednesday that Hawks took over the investigations in May 2015 after criminal complaint was laid.
Hawks not authorised - constitutional law expert
This follows a blog post in which constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said the Hawks are not authorised to investigate the establishment of the intelligence unit in Sars.
“The Hawks needs to clarify the legal mandate in terms of which it is investigating a non-criminal matter,” De Vos wrote on Tuesday.
“In the absence of a credible explanation - and in the light of the findings of dishonesty on the part of the Hawks head (Berning Ntlemeza) who also happens to be an apartheid cop - serious questions arise about the credibility as well as about is legality of the Hawks investigation,” he said.
“It is unclear what the legal basis is for the Hawks investigation relating to the establishment of a so-called ‘rogue spy unit’ by Sars as the relevant legislation does not create any criminal offences that the Hawks would be entitled to investigate,” he said.
De Vos said Ntlemeza “did not refer to the specific crimes being investigated, nor to the specific sections of the relevant legislation, which supposedly created criminal offences allegedly breached by Sars officials when it created the so-called ‘rogue spy unit’.”