Gordhan ‘unable’ to respond to Hawks questions by today’s deadline

Pravin Gordhan says the Hawks were aware he was busy preparing a budget of national importance.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has told the Hawks, through his lawyers, that he is unable to comply with their demand to answer their questions by 4pm today.

In a letter sent to the investigative unit, Gordian's attorneys say the Hawks were aware that he had been busy preparing a budget that is seen to be of national importance.

But they say he will respond in due course.

Gordhan's lawyers also asked the Hawks questions of their own and want to know by what authority they are putting these queries to him.

On Monday, the Hawks said they wanted to set the record straight and that they were not investigating Gordhan but rather the case around a so-called rogue unit within the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

The unit said they sent questions to Gordhan only because they thought he was a suitable man to talk to as he headed Sars when the unit was set up.

In a statement, the office of national Hawks, Head Berning Ntlemeza, said it could confirm it was investigating a case concerning the alleged illegal operations by a so-called rogue unit within Sars and not Gordhan per se.

It then said Gordhan was Sars commissioner when the unit was established and thus, as part of its investigations, they thought he was a suitable person to talk to, hence they sent him questions to answer.

The Hawks also added that they do not conduct their investigations through the media.

The unit said it wasn't in the interests of justice when matters under investigation were blown out of proportion, which means certain individuals are victimised.

Last week, Gordhan said questions sent to him by the Hawks about a Sars unit he helped to create were a bid to intimidate him ahead of his budget.