Gordhan: Hawks have no regard for SA’s economic welfare

Gordhan slammed a media report which claims the Hawks are demanding him to answer questions about a Sars unit.

FILE. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at a pre-Budget speech media briefing in Parliament on 24 February 2016. Picture GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the Hawks and those who instruct them have no regard for the economic welfare of millions of South Africans.

He has slammed reports in the Sunday Independent that the Hawks sent him a letter demanding that he respond to their questions about a South African Revenue Service (Sars) unit he helped create by 4pm this afternoon.

Gordhan spent last week speaking to foreign investors about the country's economy as ratings agencies consider downgrading South Africa's investment rating, and is due to speak publicly about that trip this morning.

Gordhan says he was surprised to see reports that Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza sent him this letter, because he hasn't received it.

He claims the leaking of this document is an intimidatory tactic like those that were used by the security police during apartheid.

Gordhan says his lawyers had already told Ntlemeza that he could not respond by the deadline because he was overseas speaking to investors.

The minister's use of the phrase 'those who instruct them' with regard to the Hawks appears aimed directly at Ntlemeza himself and at Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, who appointed him after a judge found Ntlemeza to be a liar.

In the letter quoted from yesterday, Ntlemeza says he does require an answer, and can't wait forever.

Gordhan says he hasn't received any letter from Ntlemeza and has asked how a journalist could get it when the person it's directed to didn't.

He appears to putting the pressure back onto Ntlemeza, who will now have to decide whether to give him more time or try to take some action against him.