Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg appear relaxed after Hawks grilling

The pair were summoned to provide warning statements to Hawks in investigation into Sars covert unit.

Johann van Loggerenberg addresses the media outside the Hawks building. Picture: Thomas Holder

JOHANNESBURG - Former South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials Johann van Loggerenberg and Ivan Pillay have left the Hawks offices in Pretoria, but have declined to comment on what happened inside.

The pair were summoned, along with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, to provide warning statements to detectives in connection with the Hawks investigation into a covert unit within Sars.

Pillay and van Loggerenberg presented themselves to the Hawks this morning, but Gordhan refused, saying he's under no legal obligation to do so.

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After both men were questioned by the Hawks for two hours each, they appeared relaxed, but declined to comment on the meeting.

Van Loggerenberg says he is deeply grateful for the support that he and Pillay has received.

"It's wonderful, thank you very much - not just to the people who came but also the people who continuously send us messages. I have received thousands of messages since yesterday. Thank you very much to everybody."

Their attorney, Rob Levin, asked that the law be allowed to take its course.

"Our clients will be following due process, they consider the allegations baseless and will be addressing the due process in accordance with their rights."

Levin also thanked the various civil society organisations which gathered outside the offices in solidarity.

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While Pillay and van Loggerenberg were being interviewed by Hawks, detectives, civil society organisations urged South Africans to rally behind them in a show of support.

Flanked by representatives of Section 27 and the Helen Suzman Foundation, Advocate George Bizos says he supports the finance minister.

"We hope that the people of South Africa will stand by him, and that this prosecution is nipped in the bud."

Freedom Under Law's Johan Kriegler says the Hawks are a disgrace.

"A man like Ivan Pillay, who has given his life to the cause, is being victimised by petty little people for motives that I believe are extreme."

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse has also shown its support today.

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