Pravin Gordhan to appear before Public Protector; clears up some facts

Malatji Kanyane Incorporated media statement

Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Public Protector’s investigation

  1. We wish to place on record, particular facts about our interactions with the Office of the Public Protector on behalf of our client, Minister Pravin Gordhan.
  2. On 05 February 2018, the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, sent a letter to Minister Gordhan. The letter reiterated the very same allegations that were the subject of a criminal investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (“DPCI/the Hawks”), and subsequent criminal charges by the National Prosecuting Authority (“NPA”) levelled against Minister Gordhan on 11 October 2016, regarding the early retirement of Mr Ivan Pillay and his subsequent re-employment by the South African Revenue Service as Deputy Commissioner in 2010.
  3. On 31 October 2016, the criminal charges were withdrawn by the National Director of Public Prosecution based on, among other considerations, the written submissions by our Mr Malatji, assisted by senior counsel, to the Hawks that showed that the criminal charges cannot be sustained on any factual or legal basis.
  4. In a subsequent complaint to the Public Protector in November 2016, it was alleged that the approval by Minister Gordhan of Mr Pillay’s early retirement amounted to maladministration, dishonest and improper conduct by the Minister in dealing with public funds.
  5. We wrote to the Public Protector on 16 February 2018, expressly stating that we require that we be provided the particulars and evidence of the alleged dishonesty and impropriety on the part of Minister Gordhan.
  6. To date, such evidence and particulars have not been provided, but for a letter from the Office of the Public Protector dated 28 February 2018, indicating that the Office was in the process of conducting a preliminary investigation as contemplated in section 7(1)(a) of the Public Protector Act, 1994. In the said letter, the Public Protector indicated that her Office has no evidence implicating Minister Gordhan of any wrongdoing.
  7. Subsequent thereto, the investigators in the Office of the Public Protector contacted our law firm on 3 July 2018 requesting that Minister Gordhan respond to the initial letter of 5 February 2018. They did so despite the fact that no particulars had been provided as requested. For the sake of cooperating with the Office of the Public Protector, we advised the Public Protector that we will obtain the Minister’s instructions.
  8. These instructions were sought to confirm whether the Minister is obliged to respond to the Public Protector’s letter of 5 February 2018 in circumstances were the particulars sought by us on 16 February 2018 were still outstanding.
  9. In the intervening period, the Office of the Public Protector proceeded to issue a subpoena on 01 October 2018 for the Minister to appear before her on 14 November 2018.
  10. Any communication that suggests that Minister Gordhan has not responded to the Public Protector’s enquiries between February and July 2018 – or that “responses were not forthcoming” – is simply deceptive, false and incorrect. The Minister is yet to receive any particulars and/or evidence of maladministration, dishonesty or impropriety referred to in the Public Protector’s initial correspondence of 5 February 2018 and her subpoena of 01 October 2018.
  11. Minister Gordhan will nonetheless appear before the Public Protector in response to the subpoena.