No decision on charging Gordhan, former Sars officials yet - NPA

Minister Pravin Gordhan and four others have been implicated in fraud and interception-related charges.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Sars briefing on 01 April 2016. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

PRETORIA - While the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed it's received the docket in the South African Revenue Services (Sars) investigation, it says a decision on whether or not to charge the suspects has not yet been made, contrary to weekend reports.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and four other former revenue service officials have been implicated in fraud and interception-related charges.

Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg and Oupa Magshula provided warning statements to the Hawks on Thursday, while Andries Janse van Rensburg was questioned last Monday.

Gordon declined to present himself to detectives saying he'd taken legal advice and wasn't obliged to.

Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Magashula have been given until 5 September to answer a list of about 30 questions.

The questions relate to the nature and conduct of a now disbanded covert unit within Sars and several key investigations it undertook into tax dodgers.

Pillay has additional questions relating to his early retirement package and subsequent re-employment at the revenue service.

It's understood that once these questions have been answered and submitted to the NPA, a decision will be made on whether or not to prosecute them, including Gordhan.

Gordhan's submissions to the Hawks last week demonstrated that the charges formulated against him were legally flawed.

'30 WITNESSES CALLED'

Meanwhile, the City Press reported that around 30 witnesses have been called to testify against Gordhan and the other officials.

The paper said it's been informed by four senior sources within the NPA that NPA head Shaun Abrahams has been asked to personally deal with the case.

The paper said Gordhan will face charges of corruption for granting former Sars Commissioner Ivan Pillay early retirement and then approving a contract for him.

It says Pillay, Magashula and Van Loggerenberg are also set to face charges in connection with a covert unit.

It's believed Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza was furious that Gordhan refused to present himself and has requested that Abrahams fast track the case.

The three other Sars officials did present themselves to the Hawks in Pretoria last week and were questioned.

SUPPORT FOR GORDHAN

Several academics have backed the finance minister. In a letter, the academics noted that since early this year, Gordhan has been subjected to an unrelenting attack from the Hawks and want the president to intervene.

At the same time, struggle veterans Ahmed Kathrada and Barbara Hogan have called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene in what they called "an attack by the Hawks on the minister".

The veterans noted: "Dear Pravin, we recall your courageous and consistent struggle record as a freedom fighter and later as minister. Try as they may, no mischievous elements will succeed in their nefarious efforts to dent your contribution. Certainly not in South Africa, and not in the world. Keep strong."

However, the ANC Youth League and Women's leagues don't agree with Gordhan's position.

They have accused him of disrespecting state institutions.