Gordhan breaks silence over controversial Sars spy unit 'arrest'

Pravin Gordhan says the reports of his looming arrest have been distressing to him and his family.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has broken his silence on media reports that he faces arrest.

The Sunday Times reported that the Hawks want the minister to be prosecuted for espionage, related to the controversial Sars spy unit.

In his statement released this evening, Gordhan says the reports have been distressing to him and his family.

"It is indeed true, that no one is above the law. But no one should be subjected to the manipulation of the law and agencies for ulterior motives. The malicious rumours and accusations about 'espionage' activities are false and manufactured for other motives. "

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He says he can't believe he's being investigated and could possibly be charged for something he is completely innocent of.

"I have answered the questions submitted by the Hawks, and have not heard from them. I was not aware of any impending charges or further investigations until the reports in the past weekend."

The finance minister says he is seeking legal advice.

"I have met with my lawyers to obtain their advice. They will be approaching the leadership of both the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority for further information and clarity."

In the statement, the minister says he is emotionally touched by those who are out to get him and cannot believe that his fellow comrades would turn against him in this manner.

"Throughout my 45 years of activism, I have worked for the advancement of the African National Congress, our Constitution and our democratic government. I would never have thought that individuals within the very agencies of this government would now conspire to intimidate and harass me and my family.

"I worked together with over 10,000 staff for a decade to transform Sars into a world class revenue and customs administration. Sars and the specialist investigative units therein operated within the law during my time as the Commissioner."

Gordhan goes on to appeal to all South Africans to protect the National Treasury staff, who have diligently, honestly and skillfully served the national interest to the best of their ability."

"It is particularly painful to me, and I'm sure to many earnest democrats, to witness this unrestrained attack on honest and hardworking people and the institutions meant to strengthen our democracy. Millions of people will pay the price [there will be less money to relieve poverty and support job creation programmes] if this subversion of democracy is left unrestrained and unchallenged."

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