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Pravin Gordhan finally responds to Hawks’ questions


By Bekithemba Ndebele

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday responded to the questions served to him by the Hawks, regarding the so-called South African Revenue Service (SARS) “rogue unit” formed during his time in office.

Gordhan stated that the “rogue unit” performed lawfully as far as he is aware. His response came voluntary, as he is not obliged by any law. Gordhan said he believes it is in the public interest that he provide them with information he have in hand, and as a law abiding citizen he has decided to cooperate.

“In respect of legality of the investigation unit established during my time as commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, I believed that the unit was lawfully established to perform very important functions for and on behalf of Sars,” Gordhan said.

According to Fin24, the Hawks on February questioned Gordhan his knowledge of the disbandment of the National Research Group (NRG) in 2009 when he was the Sars commissioner, leading to the establishment of the High Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) or the “rogue unit”. Gordhan said “The unit did not initially have a name but was later successively known as the Special Projects Unit, the National Research Group and the High-Risk Investigations Unit. ”

Gordhan mentioned that the SARS has always had its own investigation and enforcement units which are responsible for investigations such as criminal investigations of tax implications. The establishment of “rogue unit” was in line with Thabo Mbeki’s’ government’s commitment to crack down crime and organised crime in particular.

“SARS decided in about February 2007 to set up ‘the unit’ to penetrate and intercept the activities of tax and customs related crime syndicates. Its initial intention was to employ and train the members of the Unit and then to transfer them to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) where they would continue to function as a unit dedicated to SARS,” he said.

“I participated in the decision to establish the unit in February 2007.”

“My legal team has found that the establishment of the Unit did not contravene section 3 of the National Strategic Intelligence Act and its activities were not subjected to the provisions of section 3,” he said.

He said that “The Sikhakhane finding that the establishment of the Unit contravened the National Strategic Intelligence Act was wrong and based on a superficial and clearly mistaken reading of section 3(1) of the National Strategic intelligence Act,” reported Fin24.

“The Hawks declined to answer my questions seeking clarity on what offence they were investigating and by what authority they were acting,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.


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